Chairwoman Stabenow Announces Sign-Up Period to Compensate Asparagus Producers

WASHINGTON, DC – Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, today announced that asparagus producers financially impacted by the Andean Trade Preference Act (ATPA) can officially sign-up to recover lost revenue beginning on Monday, February 7. The compensation program is a major achievement for Sen. Stabenow, who championed the program during the 2008 Farm Bill negotiations and built the support necessary to create the program.

 “Our asparagus growers produce an incredibly safe, healthy and nutritious crop, but they have been hit hard by low-priced imports from overseas,” Stabenow said. “This program will go a long way in supporting our producers and their tremendous contributions to our economy.

“As Chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, I’m dedicated to making sure hard working families aren’t hurt by policies that undercut our economy, and are given the tools and resources needed to continue innovating, growing great products, and creating new jobs.”

Following implementation of the Andean trade agreement, which flooded the domestic market with Peruvian asparagus, Michigan growers were forced to lower their prices by as much as 34% in a single year. Domestic asparagus production took a major hit as well, with acreage dropping from 90,000 acres in 1991 to below 49,000 in 2006. Unlike most free trade agreements, the Andean agreement provided no transition period to allow domestic producers to prepare for a market saturation of zero-tariff asparagus from Peru.

 “America’s asparagus producers were financially affected by a substantial increase in asparagus imports,” said Vilsack. “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.”

Eligible producers for the Asparagus Revenue Market Loss Assistance Payment (ALAP) Program will have 60 days to file for eligibility, with the sign-up period closing on April 8, 2011. The program, authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill, makes available a total of $15 million for payments, with an allocation of $7.5 million reserved for asparagus marketed as fresh and $7.5 million reserved for processed asparagus. The program will also benefit producers in California and Washington, as well.

For more information on the ALAP Program, contact the nearest Farm Service Agency county office or go online to http://www.fsa.usda.gov. http://www.fsa.usda.gov.