Farmers call for disaster

Published 1:06 am Monday, October 12, 2009

VIDALIA — Sometimes, disaster can be very subtle.

This season, the farming community hasn’t had to endure a hurricane or other significant storm event, but they’ve lost just as many crops to a stretch of drought and then a stretch of rain as they would have to a storm.

The drought killed off many of the summer crops, and the rains that fell during much of September and early October have delayed harvests to the point that the crop quality and yield has been reduced to dismal levels.

Email newsletter signup

“Many of the crops have had an adverse effect from the weather,” Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain said.

“It’s the second year in a row it has been pretty tough.”

That’s why Strain sent a letter to the governor requesting him to contact the U.S. Department of Agriculture seeking a disaster declaration.

The declaration would allow farmers to participate in federal assistance programs.

The governor has honored the request and sent a letter to the USDA, and now the state agriculture department is waiting for an answer.

“We will be gathering further information over the next week or two to look at the specific data, and we expect that more than 50 percent of the parishes in Louisiana will qualify for federal assistance, either from drought or the rain, or from both,” Strain said.

A provision in the most recent farm bill requires that a disaster declaration be made within 90 days of an incident, and that’s why Strain said he made the request now, to get the declaration during the 90-day window for the drought.

“We wanted to be sure all of the parishes eligible would be included,” he said.

“We are going to do everything we can for the farmers.”