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

September 11, 2012

What GAO Found

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) and the Small Business Administration (SBA) have 10 disaster assistance programs that small agricultural producers and businesses that support agriculture can use to recover from natural disasters. These programs serve largely different populations but leave few gaps in the disaster assistance available to most small agricultural producers. Aquaculture and nursery producers could be eligible for six of these programs, but their participation is limited by awareness and eligibility issues.

GAO identified three factors that may limit small aquaculture and nursery producers' participation in the 6 disaster assistance programs for which they could be eligible. In particular, the producers are often not aware of the programs, have other options for assistance, or do not qualify because they do not meet certain program requirements. Both FSA and SBA conduct outreach related to their disaster assistance programs, but neither agency has specifically targeted its efforts toward small aquaculture and nursery producers. As a result, eligible producers are missing opportunities to obtain assistance that could help them maintain a viable business after experiencing a natural disaster.

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