U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Feb. 4 that a total of $15 million is available to domestic asparagus producers to compensate them for marketing losses resulting from imports during the 2004 through 2007 crop years. Affected producers may apply for compensation beginning on Feb. 7.
"America's asparagus producers were financially affected by a substantial increase in asparagus imports," Mr. Vilsack said in a Feb. 4 press release. “This resulted in lower domestic production and a lower market share for U.S. producers. This program will provide assistance to American asparagus producers whose livelihoods were affected.”
The Asparagus Revenue Market Loss Assistance Payment Program is authorized by the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008. The Commodity Credit Corp. will provide an allocation of $7.5 million for payments for asparagus marketed as fresh, and $7.5 million for payments for processed asparagus. The sign up period ends April 8.
ALAP provides a one-time payment to eligible asparagus producers. Maximum per-pound payment rates are $1.06 per pound for fresh-market asparagus and $1.08 per pound for asparagus marketed for processing. Payments to asparagus producers will be calculated for each asparagus farm operation based on their 2003 marketed production quantities.
If the total value of payments claimed at the maximum payment rates exceeds available funding, payments will be factored uniformly by the CCC to limit total payments to the funds available.
ALAP Program payments to producers will be capped at $100,000 per producer per marketing category (fresh and processed). Producers who have an average gross income in excess of $2.5 million for calendar years 2003 through 2005 will not be eligible for program benefits.
Eligible producers must also have produced and marketed asparagus in commercial quantities in commercial markets in the United States during both of the 2003 and 2007 crop years. A producer that did not harvest asparagus in 2007 does not meet that eligibility requirement.
For more information on the ALAP Program, contact the nearest Farm Service Agency county office or go to http://www.fsa.usda.gov.