Is the business consultant affiliated with the FSA?

“No. It will be someone selected by the TAA program. They’ll send a consultant that’s been identified and trained specifically to do this. There’s no cost to the farmer.

“At the end of that, the farmer will receive another payment of $8,000.”

So, a farmer can potentially get $12,000?

“Yes. But there’s a wrinkle it’s important for farmers to know.

“If their farm is a corporation or an LLC, only one representative can receive that payment. However, if it’s a partnership or a sole proprietor, the partner or spouse is also eligible. So a farmer and spouse – even if the spouse isn’t really involved in the farm business – can also apply. They both need to sign up before Sept. 23 and then they’ll each be eligible for the payments.”

Both will need to do the training?

“Yes. They need to sign up before Sept. 23 and go through the entire training program.”

Is the TAA program under the auspices of the USDA?

“It’s complicated and that’s led to a lot of confusion.

“The program is under the auspices of the FAS (Foreign Agriculture Service). They’re working with a bunch of different groups. The farmer eligibility is determined by FSA, which will also distribute the payments.

“Meanwhile, the training is being doing by the Extension Service. That’s where we come in.

“There’s also a whole TAA group that’s been hired by FAS to provide leadership for the whole program. They’ve contracted a group out of the University of Minnesota to try and coordinate this.

“It’s even more complex because the Economic Research Service (ERS) is the entity that made the decision as to which petitions to approve. But we’re past that step.

“The money being used to make these payments is coming from duties charged on all sorts of different imports to the United States. That includes not just food products but all sorts of imports.”

The general idea for this is to remedy trade imbalance?

“This program is only for industries being hurt by imports. The idea is to take the duties charged on imported products and try to help people. In this case, it’s catfish farmers that are being hurt.

“This way, they’ll be trained in business planning and put them on better footing to adjust somehow. Farmers will have help putting together a plan to address any needed changes. Maybe they’ll consider a different crop or a split-pond system or more aeration. Whatever it is, they’ll be able to analyze all that with the help of the business consultant and figure out if it makes sense to take those steps.

“And they’re compensated for the time spent in training and with the consultant.”

Who should farmers contact for more information?

“I’m the contact person for Arkansas farmers. They can call (870) 575-8523or e-mail”

Mississippi farmers contact: Jimmy Avery at

Alabama farmers contact: Terry Hanson at

Texas farmers contact: Michael Masser at