Aug 24, 2016
KAPLAN, LA – At an emergency response meeting at Christian and Julie Richard's farm yesterday, Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture Dr. Mike Strain announced that he had requested a Secretarial Disaster Declaration from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that would trigger critical federal disaster assistance programs. Strain said that more than 28 parishes are affected by the flooding and the recent Presidential Disaster Declaration does not cover them all.
Craig McCain, USDA Farm Services Agency (FSA) state executive director, encouraged producers to visit their local FSA office as soon as possible and have a face-to-face meeting with staff to determine options for mitigating losses from the storms. McCain went on to describe the rain event as "a hurricane without the wind and storm surge, but with the same devastating impact” and said that this is the "first test of the 2014 Farm Bill."
The Louisiana State University (LSU) AgCenter continues to assess agriculture damage, including impact to the rice ratoon and crawfish crops. One Vermilion farmer noted that crawfish are already coming out of their burrows and being dispersed by the flood waters, which does not bode well for the upcoming season.
Dr. Kurt Guidry, agriculture economics and agribusiness professor with the LSU AgCenter, said "we won't know until next year what our losses are for crawfish" and that "weather conditions for the next 14 to 21 days will have just as much of an impact as the last couple of weeks."
Prior to the Kaplan meeting, attended by nearly 150 farmers, one Jeff Davis Parish grower summed up the situation he and many of his neighbors are facing by pointing out that he has suffered damage to a significant portion of his first rice crop, lost all of his ratoon crop, all of his soybeans, and is very concerned that his crawfish production will be devastated.