Stimulus money available for farmers

Published 12:24 am Monday, March 2, 2009

VIDALIA — Stimulus money will be available for limited disaster recovery uses for Concordia Parish farmers.

Following Hurricane Gustav, nearly all of the cotton and a significant portion of the soybean crop in Concordia Parish were destroyed.

U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu visited the area in October, and at that said she was working to get federal aid for farmers affected by the disaster, but at that time her efforts were being impeded in the Senate.

Email newsletter signup

But the stimulus package that was passed in mid-February contained Landrieu’s agriculture relief language, which included $752 million for agriculture relief and $200 million specifically for Louisiana.

“I have worked since last fall to pass a bill that would send assistance to farmers impacted by Hurricanes Gustav and Ike,” Landrieu said in a statement from her office Friday.

“In Louisiana alone, the 2008 disasters caused $1 billion in lost revenue. Concordia, in particular, was among the hardest hit parishes.

“Without aid, I fear that many farmers would be forced to stop farming because they simply will not have the means to continue.”

The way the Landrieu language will work is to allow farmers to retroactively qualify for the Supplemental Revenue Assistance program, a disaster relief program created in the 2008 Farm Bill, after they pay a small fee.

The Supplemental Revenue Assistance program requires farmers to meet certain insurance coverage requirements, something nearly half of Louisiana farmers didn’t have.

“These funds will allow farmers to pay a small administrative fee to qualify for the SURE program even if they did not purchase coverage for 2008. To enroll, farmers must sign up within 90 days of the legislation’s enactment, which was on Feb. 17,” Landrieu said in the statement.

The Supplemental Revenue Assistance program is administered through the Farm Service Agency.