Floodwatch: Feds set to help govt's, farmers

Deidre Cruse

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has expanded federal assistance to the state and parishes responding to the Mississippi River flooding in Louisiana, Gov. Bobby Jindal announced Sunday.

Louisiana had been approved for only limited direct federal assistance for response efforts. ?? Now, the federal government will cover 75 percent of the costs, with the local or state government responsible for the other 25 percent.

So far, 33 of the 64 parishes, including Iberville, have declared states of emergency.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has guaranteed that Morganza Spillway farmers whose crops have been damaged by flooding caused by the Mississippi River will be eligible for crop insurance payments in accordance with their crop insurance policies. ?, according to Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M.

The ruling includes farmers in the larger Atchafalaya Basin area below the spillway whose crops will also be inundated by water after the Saturday opening of the Morganza Spillway.

??Farmers who are unable to plant but purchased crop insurance will also be eligible for prevented planting payments in accordance with their policies, Strain said.??Strain said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator (FEMA) Craig Fugate issued a statement on Saturday that crop insurance provisions will be honored.??"Secretary Vilsack and Administrator Fugate ruled that Morganza Spillway producers who purchased crop insurance and whose crops have been damaged by the flooding will be eligible for crop insurance indemnities in accordance with the provisions of their crop insurance polices," Strain said.

"We're happy that USDA and FEMA have made a decision that is favorable for our producers,"??Strain said. He said an estimated 15,256 acres of crops in the spillway and basin and another 2,853 in the fore bay area between the spillway gates and Mississippi River will be lost.