Alaska farmers eligible for USDA transportation help

Iced oysters wait to be grilled at Haa Aani/Sealaska's OysterFest.

Oyster farmers in Southeast and Prince William Sound will be able to participate in the program. (File photo by Ed Schoenfeld)

Starting July 21, Alaska farmers can sign up for  the US Department of Agriculture’s Reimbursement Transportation Cost Payment Program.

Under the 2014 Farm Bill, farmers outside the contiguous US can now receive a portion of the costs of shipping their agricultural products over long distances.

The announcement of the new plan was made last Friday by USDA Farm Service Agency administrator Juan Garcia.

Danny Consenstein is the director of the USDA Farm Service Agency. Consenstein said Alaska peony, hay and barley growers will all benefit.  Fish producers are not included in the plan, but oyster farmers in Southeast and Prince William Sound can take advantage of the program.

The reimbursement program also pays producers for the costs of  buying supplies needed for planting at the start of the season. The benefits to producers are based on costs incurred each fiscal year, subject to an $8,000 cap.  Reimbursements are usually paid back in the spring, Consenstein said.

The ruling also affects Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa and other islands far from the US mainland.

The  USDA will spend  $1.8 million in  transportation offset costs for producers enrolled in the program in the last year.

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