Mid-South and Southeast catfish farmers can apply for $11 million in assistance for catfish feed losses due to declared federal disasters that occurred between January 2005 and February 2007.

The funding, which will be distributed by the departments of agriculture in 11 catfish-growing states, is part of $1 billion in payments under the Crop Disaster, Livestock Compensation and Livestock Indemnity Programs that USDA began making in mid-December.

Mississippi, which has the largest catfish pond acreage in the nation, will receive $8.12 million; followed by Alabama at $3.12 million; Florida, $34,879.25; Idaho, $6,968; and Oklahoma, $5,651.10.

USDA also approved Catfish Grant funding for Arkansas, California, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana and Texas. USDA will distribute funds to the six states after they conduct sign-up and submit requests for payments.

In Louisiana, catfish farmers have until Jan. 4 to submit applications for the disaster aid along with a completed, signed and date IRS W-9 form. Information about how to apply for the funding can be obtained from the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry in Baton Rouge.

Eligible losses include physical loss of feed that was damaged or destroyed, increased feed costs and costs associated with lost feeding days, said Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Bob Odom. Producers who previously applied and received aid for feed loss caused by hurricanes Katrina and Rita can apply for the new program.

“Catfish producers can apply for aid if their losses were caused by the 2005 hurricanes, the 2005 or 2006 drought or any other federally declared local and regional disaster during the time,” said Odom. “Louisiana’s dollars will be determined by USDA’s Farm Service Agency after all applications are filed.

“Some Louisiana producers may have been forced to buy feed at significantly higher costs because of the droughts in the Midwest,” said Odom. “This program can help them recoup some of those higher costs.”

Distribution of the funds will be coordinated by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry with assistance from the Farm Service Agency, LSU AgCenter, Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation and the Louisiana Catfish Farmers Association. Eligible producers may receive up to $80,000 for their losses.

The “U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans’ Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act, 2007,” signed into law on May 25, 2007, by President Bush authorizes the current round of disaster payments.

For more information, contact the LDAF’s Roy Johnson at (225) 922-1280. The application form and IRS W-9 form can be downloaded at http://www.ldaf.state.la.us/.

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