Shrimpers Trying To Net Losses From Foreign Imports

Morris Sekul is much more comfortable on a shrimp boat than in an office, but it's in a temporary USDA office that he hopes to recoup what foreign imports took out of his pocket.

"Well, they gotta do something or we're gonna go outta business, it's just as simple as that. Too much competition and this year it's gonna be even worse with the price of fuel," Sekul says.

That's an extra expense shrimpers like Amanda Truong's husband can't afford. She says he's just trying to get enough money to make it through until the next season.

"We took a big loss, barely make a living. Good thing I'm working, otherwise we wouldn't survive," she says.

A USDA representative says says shrimpers can get up to almost 11 cents a pound for the catch they netted in 2003. The maximum payout is $10,000 per person.

Ricky Carnegie of the USDA, says, "We'll take an application from them and then look at their net income from 2003 versus 2002 and if it declined, then they would qualify for payment. If it did not decline, they would not qualify."

Some shrimpers grumbling that the government is considering their eligibility based on their net income instead of gross earnings. Carnegie says that's the law they must follow.

Shrimpers can apply for help Wednesday and Thursday from 8am-5pm at the Mississippi State Research and Extension Center on Popps Ferry Road.