Iberville, 52 others declared agricultural disaster areas

Staff reports

The United States Department of Agriculture has designated 53 Louisiana parishes – including Iberville – as primary agricultural disaster areas because of a spring and summer drought followed by heavy rainfall this fall, Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M., has announced.

“Extreme weather in early spring in the form of drought and excessive rainfall during the harvest months hurt our farmers,” Strain said. “One of the wettest Octobers on record made it nearly impossible for some farmers to recover from the drought.

“Many of our state farmers, foresters and ranchers have been devastated by natural disasters for a second year in a row and we are grateful for the help from the Governor’s office and the USDA. A concerted national effort is needed to assist our agricultural producers so American farmers may continue to produce and compete in the worldwide market place.”

Strain said he is urging Congress to enact legislation that would allow for an effective delivery of emergency financial disaster assistance that is equitable for Louisiana’s unique agricultural needs with a mechanism similar to direct payments

“Many of our producers need assistance within weeks to repay loans and secure new financing in time for spring planting,” the commissioner said. “We do our best to assist our farmers, foresters and ranchers in times of disaster, but our country will continue to lose its ability to produce and compete in the worldwide market unless we can protect our agricultural producers.”

Strain said it is important for farmers in the affected parishes to contact their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices and  to submit their applications for aid early.

The disaster designation makes agricultural producers in those parishes eligible for emergency loans and the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments Program.

Farm operators must have incurred losses caused by the combined effect of spring and summer drought followed by excessive rainfall between April 1 and Oct. 30 to qualify for disaster aid.

In addition to Iberville, the parishes declared as primary disaster areas are Acadia, Ascension, Avoyelles, Beauregard, Bienville, Bossier, Caddo, Calcasieu, Caldwell, Cameron, Catahoula, Claiborne, Concordia, De Soto, East Baton Rouge, East Carroll, East Feliciana, Evangeline, Franklin, Grant, Iberia, Jefferson, Jefferson Davis, Lafayette, LaSalle, Livingston, Madison, Morehouse, Natchitoches, Orleans, Ouachita, Plaquemines, Pointe Coupee, Rapides, Red River, Richland, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. Helena, St. James, St. John the Baptist, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Tensas, Vermilion, Vernon, Washington, Webster, West Baton Rouge and West Carroll.