I'm not one of those people who oppose all subsidies... there's a time and a place for every tool in the toolbox. BUT providing subsidies to shrimpers... the same subsidies that have destroyed American farms (not corporate farms) won't help Gulf Coast Shrimpers. The problem is that, and I quote from the article below:
"..20 years ago, 80 percent of shrimp consumed in the United States came from domestic producers, with 20 percent imported. Now, those numbers are reversed."
What about TAXING the IMPORTS???? Why aren't we doing that? Do we really need shrimp from Vietnam when we have our own skilled shrimpers, some of whom are Vietnamese, right here? What do you think the food quality testing programs in Vietnam or China or name your county are like?
"...the price per pound dropped from $2.78 in 2000 to $1.66 in 2008, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and an April paper prepared by Texas economists for the USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service, which runs the assistance program."
So why aren't we taxing the imports? Why aren't we encouraging shorter transportation distances for food stuffs? Why are the shrimp from other places so cheap? Does it really cost nothing to ship shrimp or any other food stuff across the ocean? No it costs. But trust me just like here.... the shrimpers aren't the ones making the profit, a living maybe but not racking in the dough.
If there was a limit on how much petroleum product we could use would you choose to ship shrimp from overseas with it or would you choose to use less of it to get shrimp from the Gulf Coast and feed local shrimpers in the process?
Why are our lawmakers so impractical as to provide subsidies at our expense instead of taxing the imports which I know full well is also at our expense? Wouldn't you rather tax the imports so our shrimpers can make a living shrimping rather than taxing ourselves because we've set it up so that the shrimpers can't make a living shrimping?
LINK to ARTICLE and FULL ARTICLE BELOW:
Local shrimpers to get aid
Program recognizes plummeting prices
Monday, December 20, 2010
By Benjamin Alexander-Bloch
St. Bernard bureau
For several hours one day last week, about 20 Gulf Coast shrimpers sat indoors on an unusually warm December morning in lower St. Bernard Parish, learning about a program that could net them $12,000 apiece in subsidies because of increased shrimp imports, smaller domestic catches and plummeting shrimp prices in the past five years.
It is the first time the U.S. Department of Agriculture has offered the subsidy program since Hurricane Katrina, and it's doing so because of the downturn in Gulf and South Atlantic states' shrimp catch and value.
More than 14,000 Louisianians, including about 800 from the New Orleans area, signed up by Sept. 23 for the first round of the program. The deadline for the second and final round is Thursday.
Formally known as Trade Adjustment Assistance for Farmers, the program focuses only on the years 2005 through 2008. People who quit the shrimping industry after this year's BP oil spill can qualify, if they can show they were involved in the industry in 2008 and at least one of the three prior years: 2005, 2006 or 2007.
Even before the tumult caused by the spill, the past decade has seen massive declines in the domestic shrimp industry, with the annual catch falling from 322 million pounds in 2000 to 212 million pounds in 2008.
Meanwhile, the price per pound dropped from $2.78 in 2000 to $1.66 in 2008, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and an April paper prepared by Texas economists for the USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service, which runs the assistance program.
During that same eight-year period, annual imports jumped from 625 million pounds to 948 million, according to the economists' study.
Rex Caffey, director of the LSU Center for Natural Resource Economics and Policy, said that 20 years ago, 80 percent of shrimp consumed in the United States came from domestic producers, with 20 percent imported. Now, those numbers are reversed.
As a result, imports end up setting the price.
Caffey said the major blow to the Gulf seafood market has not been "natural disaster, or man-made disasters."
"It has been trying to keep up with global imports," he said.
The federal assistance program, organized locally by the LSU AgCenter and Louisiana Sea Grant, aims to subsidize shrimpers for money lost to such imports.
It has four phases. Completing the first three can garner participants a total of $4,000. The remaining phase, which involves creating an extended business plan, can bring them another $8,000.
Boat owners, spouses, children, business partners and deckhands involved in shrimping are all potentially eligible. Applicants must be U.S. citizens or lawfully admitted aliens.
Shrimpers admitted into the first phase of the program in September must complete a mandatory initial orientation by Wednesday to remain enrolled.
The last in-person orientation session will be held Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Belle Chasse Civic Auditorium. Otherwise, applicants can complete the orientation online at www.taaforfarmers.org.
Meanwhile, those interested in qualifying for the final round of the program by the Thursday deadline must contact an office of the USDA's Farm Service Agency to set up a meeting. The Farm Service Agency locations nearest to the metro New Orleans area are in St. John Parish, 985.497.3311, and Washington Parish, 985.839.5687.
During the application phase that ended in September, the Foreign Agricultural Service initially required applicants to show that their 2008 catch was smaller than in 2007 or that the price of their shrimp in 2008 was lower than the average price in 2005, 2006 and 2007. But two days before that application period ended, the Southern Shrimp Alliance successfully petitioned for "group certification" of shrimpers in most Louisiana parishes.
That certification means the Foreign Agricultural Service will now automatically accept that shrimpers in those parishes have been adversely affected by imports and qualify for subsidies without the shrimpers having to prove it individually.
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Benjamin Alexander-Bloch can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 504.826.3321.