USDA has named six Louisiana parishes as contiguous natural disaster areas, according to Louisiana Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain.
The six parishes include: Concordia, East Carroll, East Feliciana, Madison, Tensas and West Feliciana.
The declaration is the result of flooding that occurred from April 25 through June 25 this year.
Eight Mississippi counties were declared primary natural disaster areas. Eligible producers in the six Louisiana parishes may also qualify for assistance because their parishes are contiguous to the Mississippi counties.
Farmers in both primary and contiguous parishes who suffered losses from flooding that occurred April 25 through June 25 may be eligible for low-interest emergency loans from the Farm Service Agency.
Strain said he is still waiting on a decision from the USDA on a disaster declaration request after Louisiana experienced drought and excessive rainfall this year.
“Upon my request, Gov. Jindal sent a letter urging the USDA for a natural disaster declaration,” Strain said. “Earlier this summer, much of Louisiana was suffering from severe drought that likely will drastically reduce cotton, soybean and sweet potato yields.
“If that wasn’t enough, producers have also been plagued by heavy rains in recent weeks, hampering harvest activities and further reducing crop yields and quality.”
LSU AgCenter preliminary damage statistics estimate lost revenue for Louisiana’s major commodities at $275 million caused by excessive rainfall during the last two months. Figures show cotton could suffer more than 46 percent loss in revenue, while sweet potatoes could lose more than 26 percent and soybeans more than 21 percent.
“More than ever, Louisiana producers are in need of disaster funds. In 2008, Tropical Storm Fay and hurricanes Gustav and Ike devastated much of Louisiana just before harvest and this year is not proving to be much better. Producers pour everything they have into each planting season, sometimes only to have their investment shrivel up or washed away,” Strain said.
To apply for low-interest emergency loans and to inquire about other available programs, producers should contact their local FSA offices.
For additional information, go to http://disaster.fsa.usda.gov/.
Farmers in eligible parishes have eight months from the disaster declaration date to apply for the loans.