Application Process To Start Immediately
October 23, 2003
Fishermen will have 90 days in which to complete and submit their applications. The application period will open immediately, Murkowski said after the meeting.
"Because this is a brand-new program and needed to be implemented quickly, the details have been complicated. I'm happy to confirm that we are on track for benefits to offset the extremely low prices paid to fishermen in 2002, and the door is open to similar payments for the 2003 season, as long as prices continue to be negatively affected to the same degree by foreign trade in salmon. It is wonderful news for Alaska salmon fishermen," said Senator Murkowski.
"I'm very grateful that the Administration is solidly behind this important program for Alaska's fishermen. Foreign competition simply isn't going to go away, and this is an important step toward helping our fishermen and coastal communities adjust while they develop ways to cope with changes in the marketplace for Alaska salmon products," said Murkowski.
"It's also a milestone in that fishermen are being given the same treatment by the government as farmers. We have worked toward that end for some time," she added.
Murkowski in August convinced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to include Alaska salmon fishermen in the definition of farmers so they could qualify for both technical assistance and financial grants under the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Farmers program authorized by last year's Trade Promotion Act.
Fishermen who wish to apply for benefits will need to provide information detailing their income and catch records. Application materials are being e-mailed to all limited entry permit holders. Boat operators and crew members can also get application forms from a USDA web site: http://forms.sc.egov.usda.gov/eforms/mainservlet , and from USDA Farm Service Agency offices in Alaska. As soon as possible, they will also be available from Senator Murkowski's Alaska offices. Applications must be submitted by January 20, 2004.
Under the law passed by Congress, fishermen also will be required to demonstrate that they have received technical assistance from USDA before they receive a payment. The Department is working with the University of Alaska and others to schedule technical assistance seminars for fishermen throughout Alaska and will make provisions for those who cannot attend such a session in person.
"According to USDA officials, the law also specifies that in addition to the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) payments from USDA, fishermen who qualify for the program will also be eligible to apply for retraining benefits under a companion U.S. Department of Labor TAA program," said Murkowski. "I am still working with the USDA to identify additional benefit programs that may now be accessible to fishermen."
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