Seafood Trade Relief Program

Program Overview

The U.S. Dept of Agriculture (USDA) announced the Seafood Trade Relief Program (STRP) for Maine lobstermen and other U.S. commercial fishermen who have been “impacted by trade actions of foreign governments resulting in the loss of exports.”
Detailed information and links to resources on the program are available below. Final program details are available in the Federal Register (published 9/14/2020).

What you need to know:
1. You MUST apply to the STRP to be eligible to receive funding
2. Applications will be accepted for 3 months, from Sept 14 through Dec 14, 2020
3. The benefit is equal to 50 cents for every pound of lobster you landed in 2019
4. This program is fully funded so all applications made through Dec 14, 2020 will receive full consideration.
5. The benefit is not a grant or a loan so it does not need to be paid back. However, it is taxable income.
6. Applications must be submitted to a Farm Service Agency (FSA) office. This can be done by mail, email or fax, or in person by appointment only.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity.

If you have questions, contact your local Farm Service Agency office. For locations not included below please see the full list found here.

Details about the Program

  • USDA determined that commercial lobstermen are eligible to apply for funding based on the agency’s analysis of the impacts of retaliatory tariffs by China on lobster exports. USDA determined that lobstermen experienced “trade damage” estimated at a loss of 50 cents per pound.
  • Commercial lobstermen are eligible to apply for funds based on this formula: (2019 pounds landed) x (50 cents)
  • No person, business or legal entity can receive more than $250,000 in payments through this program.
  • To apply, average adjusted gross income (AGI) for tax years 2016-2018 cannot be greater than $900,000 unless at least 75% of the AGI is derived from farming, ranching, forestry, seafood production, or related activities.
  • Several commercial seafood species are eligible for funding through this program: Atka mackerel, Dungeness Crab, Flounder, Geoduck, Goosefish, Herring, King Crab, Lobster, Monk Fish, Pacific Cod, Pacific Ocean Perch, Pollock, Sablefish, Salmon, Snow Crab, Southern Tanner Crab, Sole, Squid, Tuna, Turbot.

How do Lobstermen Apply?

  • Applications (form CCC-916) must be submitted to an FSA office. This can be done by mail, email or fax, or in person (by appointment only).
  • Applications will be accepted September 14 through December 14, 2020.
  • You must hold a valid state or federal commercial fishing license to catch a species approved by USDA for the STRP and your catch must be sold through a legally permitted or licensed seafood dealer.
  • Applicants must complete “2020 Seafood Trade Relief Program (STRP) application” (Form CCC-916) available on or through a county Farm Service Agency Office.
  • On the application, lobstermen must “self certify” the amount of his/her 2019 commercial lobster landings in pounds. According to Maine DMR, if you do not have your 2019 landings, the agency can only provide this information if the request is made in writing and verified by a notary. The quickest way to get this information is to contact your dealer.
  • If requested by FSA, lobstermen may need to show proof that you hold a commercial lobster license or “supporting documentation to provide production evidence for the amount and type of certified landings.” This would require a verification of landings by the appropriate state or federal management agency.
  • There may be additional documentation required such as proof of commercial fishing license or proof of average Adjusted Gross Income (AGI).

Links to Application Forms

The STRP is a one page application (CCC-16), however there are several supplemental forms which must be submitted within 60 days of your application. Call your local FSA office for more information on the application process. FSA can mail you the forms, or send an email so you can fill them out electronically.

  • CCC-901, Member’s Info
  • CCC-902-I, Farm Operating Plan for Individual
  • CCC-902-E, Farm Operating Plan for Entity
  • CCC-941, Average Adjusted Gross Income certification and consent
  • CCC-942, Certification of Income from Fishing, Farming, Ranching, Forestry Operations
  • SF-3881, ACH Payment Enrollment

“For your lobster landings” comment from Commissioner Patrick Keliher

To apply, you will need to self-certify your 2019 landings information on the application. Due to the confidentiality laws, DMR cannot provide personal information over the phone as we have no way to verify who is making the request. These requests would need to be made in writing and verified by a notary. I understand that calls have already been made to the landings program, but it is not feasible for us to deal with hundreds of these requests. If you do not have your 2019 landings the quickest way to get this information is to contact your dealer(s).

Information Links to USDA Seafood Trade Relief Program (STRP)

MLA Statement on USDA Seafood Trade Relief Program

The Maine Lobstermen’s Association (MLA) is excited to learn about the opportunity for financial aid for Maine lobstermen and other U.S. fishermen who have suffered as a result of retaliatory tariffs. Maine’s hardworking lobstermen did not create these trade issues, but for too long, have had to live with the consequences. Lobstermen have been doing all they can to keep their businesses viable only to be met with weakened markets in 2020 due to the pandemic. Federal relief will help keep Maine’s fishermen solvent so they may continue following their proud traditions in the face of so many challenges.

The MLA looks forward to learning more about how the USDA’s Seafood Trade Relief Program will benefit our lobstermen and communities. The MLA is grateful for the Trump administration’s leadership and for the tremendous long-standing support of Maine’s Congressional delegation to address unfair trade practices which have hurt the U.S. seafood industry.