This is an summary of the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Farmers (TAAF) program, with an overview of the process of administering TAAF benefits and eligibility criteria. The 112th Congress of the United States is posed to discuss proposals for renewal.
Summary of the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Farmers (TAAF) program
The Trade Adjustment Assistance for Farmers (TAAF) program provides technical assistance and cash benefits to producers of agricultural commodities and fishermen who experience adverse economic impacts caused by increased imports. Congress first authorized this program in 2002, and made significant changes to it in the 2009 economic stimulus package (P.L. 111-5). The 2009 revisions were intended to make it easier for commodity producers and fishermen to qualify for program benefits. It also provided over $200 million in funding through year-end 2010. The 2010 omnibus trade measure (P.L. 111-344) temporarily extended the program through February 12, 2011, and authorized an additional $10.4 million.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is required to follow a two-step process in administering TAAF program benefits. First, a group of producers must be certified eligible to apply. Second, a producer in a certified group must meet specified requirements to be approved to receive technical assistance and cash payments.
To be certified, a group must show that imports were a significant cause for at least a 15% decline in one of the following factors: the price of the commodity, the quantity of the commodity produced, or the production value of the commodity.
Once a producer group is certified, an individual producer within that group must meet three requirements to be approved for program benefits. These include technical assistance with a training component, and financial assistance. A producer must show that (1) the commodity was produced in the current and also in one recent previous year, (2) the quantity of the commodity produced decreased compared to that in a previous year, or the price received for the commodity decreased compared to a preceding three-year average price, and (3) no benefits were received under any other trade adjustment assistance program. The training component is intended to help the producer become more competitive in producing the same or another commodity. Financial assistance (capped at $12,000 over a three-year period) is to be used by the producer to develop and implement a business adjustment plan designed to address the impact of import competition.
Since 2009, USDA has certified 11 of the 30 petitions filed by various commodity groups and fishermen (e.g., producers of shrimp, catfish, asparagus, lobster, and blueberries). USDA already has approved about 4,500 agricultural producers for training and cash assistance under the three FY2010 certifications. USDA in early 2011 will approve producers under the eight FY2011 certified petitions. Most of the program benefits in both years are expected to flow to shrimp producers.
Because TAAF funding expired on February 12, 2011, the 112th Congress is considering proposals to provide future funding. S. 308 would extend TAAF and the other TAA programs (among other provisions) through mid-2012. An effort in the House to temporarily extend TAA authorities through June 30, 2011, become caught up in criticism of their rationale and linked to the consideration of other trade issues. Some Members want to tie a TAA extension to (1) the Obama Administration making a commitment on a timetable to submit pending free trade agreements with Colombia and Panama to Congress for a vote and (2) the terms of extending one trade preference program.
This summary was taken from the Congressional Research Service Report R40206 by Remy Jurenas