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Louisiana trawlers are encouraged to participate in a program that will provide business training and money.

Funding for the program stems from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Because trawling is one of many American commodities affected by imports, trawlers can apply for the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Farmers (TAAF) Program by contacting the Thibodaux Farm Service Agency at (985) 446-6226 to schedule an appointment.

Lafourche, Terrebonne and Assumption trawlers are eligible to contact the Thibodaux office.

Before calling, trawlers should be prepared to provide their 2005-08 trip ticket information, a blank check in order to establish a direct deposit, State or Federal issued identification and a permanent tax identification number or social security number.

The application deadline is Sept. 23, and both husbands and wives are eligible if they both share risk.

In order to qualify, trawlers must meet one of the following guidelines:

• They had less production in 2008 than they did the previous year they trawled, provided it was between 2005-07

• They received a smaller average price in 2008 than the average of the previous three years

• The regional or state price was lower on May 3, 2010 than the average price for the region or state 2007-09

USDA Farm Service Agency Louisiana Agriculture Specialist Gerard Labbe said many Louisiana trawlers should fit into at least one of the first two categories.

“The Southern Shrimp Alliance showed that the shrimp prices were adversely affected [in 2008] when compared to the three previous years,” Labbe said.

Once trawlers are accepted into the program, they become eligible for business training and money.

The initial training will begin once the application deadline passes Sept. 23, and applicants have 90 days to take a one-to-two hour class. Travel expenses are eligible to be reimbursed for this initial training.

In the next phase, applicants will need to finish 12 hours of training and submit a short-term business plan before receiving a check of up to $4,000.

“We’re trying to provide them with the tools to go out and be more efficient with their operations and be successful for a very long time, and they will be provided with some financial assistance on top of the training,” said LSU Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness professor Dr. Kurt Guidry.

Training will be available both at seminars and online, and trawlers can mix online and in-person hours.

The online training seminars will focus on general business skills, while the in-person seminars will be geared toward important topics for locals, Guidry said.

“Given our limited resources, we will try to provide the trainings close, so people don’t have to drive far,” he explained.

If a participant cannot attend a training session, an alternate representative may sit in, but it cannot be someone who is also taking part in the program.

Although the dates and times of seminars in the Tri-parish area have not been decided yet, Guidry expects each one to last three hours and count for three hours of credit.

Guidry expects trawlers to finish their 12 hours of training by March 2011, but they are welcome to finish as quickly as they can, and the sooner they finish, the sooner they receive their check.

Once the 12 hours and the short term business plan are completed and submitted, trawlers are eligible for an additional check of up to $8,000 by meeting with a private consultant, sponsored by TAAF, to develop a long-term business plan.

“The idea is to provide them with information that hopefully will allow them to be better situated to deal with lower prices from increased imports,” Guidry said. “If imports are not going away, then what we are trying to do is figure out how to make their businesses more efficient.”

Once the long-term business plan is approved by TAAF, the trawler will receive his or her check.

Both the $4,000 and $8,000 checks are subject to reductions if program participation exceeds funding.