Severe storms and excessive rainfall that resulted in the Red River flooding during the spring and summer caused an estimated $7 million damage to agriculture in northwest Louisiana, but that number will likely go higher at harvest, said LSU AgCenter economist Kurt Guidry.
“These estimates are extremely preliminary and likely a conservative estimate of the full impact of the adverse weather experienced in Louisiana,” Guidry said.
These estimates only consider an operation’s gross revenue, he said. They do not include estimates of increased production costs, such as re-planting, land cleanup and tillage as well the costs of moving cattle out of flooded areas, purchasing supplemental feed or hay, and any structural damage to the farm’s infrastructure and equipment.
Guidry collected information from LSU AgCenter parish agents about the types and extent of the damage as well as from assessments developed by USDA’s Farm Service Agency.
Guidry’s data showed about 90,000 acres of agricultural land had been affected, including roughly 38,000 acres of cropland and more than 52,000 acres of pasture and hay land
About 18,000 of soybeans and 7,000 acres of both corn and cotton were damaged. Rice and grain sorghum were also reported to have been affected.
In addition to the production effects on crops and lost grazing and hay production, Guidry’s assessment also showed minor livestock losses and significant losses to bee hives and honey production.
“All combined, the economic impact was estimated at over $7 million,” he said.
Ron Levy, LSU AgCenter soybean specialist, said the environmental conditions this season have been unfavorable for soybeans in the majority of the state. This year’s crop will be reduced from last year because of heavy rainfall early in the season and lack of rain late in the season.
“Our average bushel per acre number will be lower this year,” Levy said. “Our average was a record high of 57 bushels per acre last year. This year we are estimating mid- to upper 40s.”
Levy said these are just estimates, and he won’t have more precise numbers until harvest is complete.
Based on assessments conducted by the Farm Service Agency and the LSU AgCenter, a Presidential Disaster Designation on July 13 declared Bossier, Caddo, Grant, Natchitoches and Red River parishes as primary disaster areas. On July 22, the secretary of agriculture also designated those parishes as primary disaster areas along with Avoyelles, East Feliciana, Franklin, Iberville, Pointe Coupee, Rapides and West Baton Rouge parishes.
The Secretarial Disaster Designation was for losses due to the combined effects of excessive rain, flooding, high winds and hail, Guidry said. In addition to the primary disaster areas, 23 parishes were identified as contiguous disaster areas with a total of 35 parishes being designated as either primary or contiguous disaster areas.
Low-interest emergency loans are available to producers in parishes designated as a primary or contiguous disaster area, Guidry said. To be eligible for those emergency loans, producers must be able to prove that they experienced at least 30 percent production losses.
In addition to emergency loans, producers who experienced livestock and honeybee losses could receive disaster assistance under the Livestock Indemnity Program or the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program, he said.
All three assistance programs are administered by the Farm Service Agency.