Impacted by Foreign Imports, U.S. Lobstermen Can Get Help Under TAA for Farmers Program

Lobster industry representatives and state Sea Grant offices from five lobster producing states (Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island) recently filed a petition under the US Depart- ment of Agriculture’s Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program on behalf of the lobster industry. Evidence was provided to support the claim that prices and production of American lobster were negatively affected by foreign imports in 2009. On September 24, 2010, that petition was certified, paving the way for lobstermen to receive benefits through the TAA program.

What is the TAA?

TAA provides training to help agriculture producers and fishermen increase profitability, improve production efficiency, consider marketing opportunities, and evaluate alternative enterprises. General information about the TAA for Farmers Program can be found by calling the TAA for Farmers Program staff in the Foreign Agricultural Service at (202) 720-0638, by email at tradeadjustment @fas. or by visiting the TAA for Farmers Web site at www.

What does the program involve?

The deadline to apply is December 23, 2010. After signing up, there are 4 basic parts to the TAA program. All phases of the program will be completed by September 23, 2013.

Phase 1: Initial Technical Assistance –

a workshop of about two hours, to orient you to the TAA program and let you know what to expect. This is a mandatory meeting, and will be offered at several places along the coast.

Phase 2: Intensive Technical Assistance –

These are workshops of about 2-3 hours, designed to improve the profitability of lobster businesses. There will be about 8 workshop topics, of which each individual will attend 3 or 4 (your choice) to equal a minimum of 12 hours of workshop time. Each workshop topic will be held in multiple locations, and can some may be completed on line as well. Potential topics include marketing, product handling, business plan development, and alternative enterprises.

Phase 3: Develop an Initial Business Plan –

This usually occurs during the last workshop, and consists of a very brief worksheet that will probably 15 to 20 minutes to complete. Upon approval of the plan, fishermen are in line to receive up to $4,000. There are no requirements on the use of these funds, other than they are taxable income – you can use the money how you wish. However, the goal is to provide funds for fishermen to implement business plans or to reinvest in the viability of their business.

Phase 4: Develop a Long Term Business Plan –

In this step, you will work directly with a business consultant, and upon completion of the business plan, you will receive up to $8,000. This phase usually involves 3 or 4 meetings, of an hour or two each, and some additional work is required by the individual to complete the plan. Note: this service is free of charge, and in normal circumstances, has a value of up to $10,000. This business plan can help you think through your operations, financials and opportunities, and can be of great help in making your fishing business stronger.

Who is eligible?

Lobstermen who can provide documentation that they harvested and sold in 2009 and at least one other year between 2006 and 2008 are eligible. In addition, lobstermen must certify that their average gross non-fishing income between 2006 and 2009 did not exceed $500,000, and that their average adjusted gross fishing income during the same period did not exceed $750,000.

How do I apply?

To receive TAA benefits, eligible lobstermen must apply through their county USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) office. Applicants must fill out FSA Form 229-1 which is available at FSA offices or online at This form must be submitted by December 23, 2010 to your county Farm Service Agency (FSA). Addition-al forms are required and will be provided by your local FSA office.

Since TAA is offered at no cost, and there are no penalties for withdrawing from the program, we strongly urge you to sign up. If you are late in applying, then you are shut out of the program.

The TAA program is being implemented within each participating state. Therefore, applicants for the TAA for lobsters program must use the contacts listed below for their state. Use the FSA contact for questions about application forms and the Sea Grant contact for general information on the program for your state:

Candy Weymoth,
(207) 990-9100 x2,
ME Sea Grant
Dana Morse, (207) 563-3146 x205,
*Stay Tuned! Informational meetings are being organized throughout Maine, contact Dana Morse for an update.

New Hampshire
Linda Grames, (603) 224-7941,
NH Sea Grant
Ken La Valley, (603) 862-4343,
Erik Chapman, (603) 862-1935,

Steve Ward, (508) 295-5151 x1,
MA Sea Grant
Madeleine Hall-Arber,
(617) 253-9308,

Marilu Soileau,
(401) 828-3120 x1214,
CT Sea Grant
Tessa Getchis, (806) 405-9104,

Rhode Island
Marilu Soileau,
(401) 828-3120 x1214,
RI Sea Grant
Chris Parkins, (401) 874-7152,

The TAA program offers a unique opportunity for lobstermen. Again, since TAA is offered at no cost, and there are no penalties for withdrawing from the program, we strongly urge you to sign up.

-Erik Chapman
NH Sea Grant and UNH Cooperative Extension


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