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2012 GAO Report: USDA & SBA Can Help Aquaculture

USDA and SBA Could Do More to Help Aquaculture and Nursery Producers

Why GAO Did This Study

Farmers and other agricultural producers are exposed to natural disasters, such as droughts, floods, hurricanes, and tornadoes. In the aftermath of such events, FSA and SBA disaster assistance programs can provide an important safety net for these producers. However, after past natural disasters, industry groups and others have raised concerns that some small agricultural producers—particularly aquaculture (such as farmed fish and shellfish) and nursery (such as trees and plants) producers—reported being ineligible to obtain this assistance.

GAO was asked to (1) examine FSA and SBA disaster assistance programs and the coverage they provide to small producers; (2) identify the main factors, if any, that may limit small aquaculture and nursery producers’ participation in these disaster assistance programs; and (3) examine FSA and SBA efforts to collaborate in providing such assistance to these producers. GAO reviewed the 10 FSA and SBA disaster assistance programs that become available following a natural disaster and that provide direct financial assistance or loans to these producers, interviewed agency officials and industry representatives, and reviewed agency documents and regulations.

What GAO Recommends

GAO recommends that USDA and SBA target outreach to small aquaculture and nursery producers, for example, by building on existing outreach, and develop a strategy to formally collaborate on disaster assistance for such producers. USDA and SBA generally concurred with GAO’s recommendations.

 

For full report: view GAO-12-844.

For more information, contact Lisa Shames at (202) 512-3841 or shamesl@gao.gov and William B. Shear at (202) 512-8678 or shearw@gao.gov.

 

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