Farmers in Vermilion Parish, La., told Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain this week they need better flood protection from hurricane storm surges while Cameron and Calcasieu cattlemen said they need water and hay for their stranded and stressed cattle.
Strain met with Vermilion Parish ag producers on Monday at the Abbeville, La., Farm Bureau headquarters. Later in the afternoon, he met with cattlemen at Southland Field in Sulphur, La.
Erath, La., sugar cane farmer Jimmy Domingues said the old spoil bank of the Intracoastal Canal at one time provided a levee of sorts that protected the coastal communities. “There was 20 feet of Intracoastal levee,” Domingues said. “And there was no water in the houses.”
Domingues said storm surge from 2005’s Hurricane Rita put 3 feet of water in his Erath home. “I only had 9 inches this time,” Domingues said. “At least my furniture wasn’t floating.”
Domingues said his sugarcane crop was definitely going to suffer though it was too soon to say how badly.
Representatives Simone Champagne of Jeanerette and Jonathan Perry of Abbeville attended the Abbeville meeting.
The Calcasieu cattlemen came straight from the field to meet with Strain. They told Strain and Representative Mike Danahay of Sulphur that getting fresh water to more than 8,000 stressed cattle west of the Calcasieu River is their top priority.
Calcasieu County Agent Tommy Shields said 3,000 head were stranded because of high water.
Strain advised the cattlemen to report the GPS locations of the stranded cattle to their local parish office of emergency preparedness.
“I will do everything I can to expedite the delivery of water and hay,” Strain said.
On Tuesday Strain issued a statewide call for donations of hay and feed for stranded and stressed cattle in the coastal areas.
“Call the Louisiana Cattlemen’s Association at (225) 343-3491 if you can donate hay or feed,” Strain said. “The LDAF will arrange to get it where it needs to go.”
Strain urged the producers at the Vermilion and Calcasieu gatherings to sign up for the Farm Service Agency crop insurance program, the Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) and to register with FEMA at (8000 621-3362 (FEMA) for disaster assistance.
The Sept. 16 deadline to register for the FSA crop insurance and NAP programs has been extended for 10 business days for 55 Louisiana parishes, including Vermilion, Cameron and Calcasieu.
The deadline was not extended for Bienville, Bossier, Caddo, Claiborne, DeSoto, Red River, St. Tammany, Washington and Webster parishes.
Strain also advised all agricultural producers they should:
• Take photographs and/or video of damages, including downed fences.
• Apply for every program available through the local Farm Service Agency.
• If crops must be harvested, leave a 10-foot representative strip in each field to be inspected by an insurance adjuster.
• Do not destroy any damaged crops until it has been inspected by an insurance adjuster.
• Do not remove stumps from cut down trees until an FSA agent measures the diameter.
• Move fallen limbs from the fields but don’t dispose until an FSA agent measures the diameter.
• Go to the FEMA website for more information: www.fema.gov.
• Contact your bankers, creditors, elevators and keep lines of communications open.
In addition to meeting with farmers in Abbeville and Sulphur, Strain has met with farmers in Mer Rouge, Oak Grove, Paincourtville, Batchelor, Ferriday, Winnsboro, Gilbert, Bunkie, Lake Providence, Ville Platte and Port Sulphur since hurricanes Gustav and Ike made landfall.
Another meeting with farmers is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 30 in Mansura, La., at the Louisiana 4-H Museum on Highway 1.