The Southern Risk Management Education Center, based at the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, is offering help to shrimpers in the Gulf of Mexico who face an uncertain future due to increased foreign competition and one of the largest oil spills in U.S. history.

Under a June 25 USDA decision, shrimpers in the Gulf and the south Atlantic states can apply for benefits under the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Farmers Program, known as TAA. The program is designed to help shrimpers adjust to increased competition through training and payments to implement new business strategies.

In the coming weeks, the Southern Risk Management Education Center will be coordinating curriculum development and training workshops with a team made up of Extension and Sea Grant specialists and industry experts across the South as well as providing resources to help shrimpers navigate the TAA application process.

“The shrimp industry in recent years has seen dramatic increases in foreign import competition,” said Nathan Kemper, who is the TAA coordinator with the center. “Now, with the unresolved oil spill in the gulf, the future is even more uncertain for shrimpers.”

Shrimpers have until Sept. 23 to apply.

Individual shrimpers in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas interested in applying for technical training and up to $12,000 in cash benefits must complete and submit a written application to their local Farm Service Agency Service Center.

Applications (form FSA 229-1) are available on the FAS Web site at: http://www.fas.usda.gov/itp/taa/taaforms.asp.

A schedule of workshop dates and topics will be posted at http://srmec.uark.edu/ and http://southernrme.blogspot.com/, as well as all the contact information and resources to help shrimpers fill out applications.

“With the leadership provided by our TAA program coordinator Nathan Kemper, we have assembled an excellent team of industry experts from across the South to develop workshops and lead training events and there is no doubt that the team will deliver a quality product to shrimpers,” said Ron Rainey, SRMEC co-director.

For more information about TAA, contact Nathan Kemper at (479) 575-5226 or nkemper@uaex.edu, or Ron Rainey, (501) 671-2165 or rrainey@uaex.edu.

The Southern Risk Management Education Center coordinates risk management education programs in Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.