Parish farmers eligible for aid

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 17, 2000

AP and staff reports

All family-size farms in 59 of Louisiana’s 64 parishes — including Concordia, Catahoula and Tensas — are now eligible for low-interest emergency loans from the U.S. Farm Service Agency.

Those loans follow a disaster declaration resulting from such natural disasters as severe heat, prolonged drought and hail damage, Sens. John Breaux and Mary Landrieu, both D-La, said Friday.

Email newsletter signup

The disaster designation follows a letter sent by both senators and Louisiana’s U.S. House delegation to Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman in August. It sought help for Louisiana farmers who lost crops and/or livestock because of the extreme weather conditions.

”This announcement gives our farmers… the loans they need to get back on their feet again and start recovering from such major agricultural losses,&uot; Breaux said.

But Concordia Parish County Agent Glen Daniels doesn’t buy it.

&uot;After two years of back-to-back drought and low prices, farmers are behind the eight ball financially,&uot;&160;Daniels said. He said production costs, from wages to machinery prices, add to farmers’ burdens. &uot;What they need are more government payments, … not loans.&uot;

Daniels said the majority of Concordia farms are still family-owned and, as such, would have a chance to qualify for this latest loan program.

But the average age of a farm owner in Concordia Parish is 55 and, with farming costs and crop prices at current levels, few young people are looking to start farming. &uot;You’re looking at a situation where, in five or 10 years, the family farm in Concordia Parish could be an extinct animal,&uot; Daniels said.

The following 41 parishes were declared primary disaster areas: Acadia, Ascension, Assumption, Avoyelles, Calcasieu, Caldwell, Cameron, Catahoula, Concordia, DeSoto, East Baton Rouge, East Carroll, East Feliciana, Franklin, Iberville, Jefferson Davis, Lafayette, Lafourche, LaSalle, Livingston, Madison, Morehouse, Ouachita, Plaquemines, Pointe Coupee, Richland, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. Helena, St. James, St. John the Baptist, St. Landry, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Tensas, Terrebonne, Vermilion, Washington, West Baton Rouge, West Carroll and West Feliciana.

The following 18 parishes were declared contiguous disaster areas because of drought and extreme heat: Beauregard, Evangeline, Grant, Iberia, Jackson, Jefferson, Lincoln, Orleans, Rapides, St. Martin, St. Mary, Union, Vernon and Winn.

The following received the disaster designation because of severe hail on June 1: Caddo, Natchitoches, Red River and Sabine.