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|Ag disaster declaration key to recovery|
Chad Nelson said the situation for farmers in Franklin Parish is dire and called the affects of Hurricane Gustav "a horrible situation."
Without a declaration of agricultural disaster from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Nelson said there are some farmers whose businesses might not survive the storms.
"There is cotton that will not get picked," said Nelson, an agriculture consultant in Franklin Parish. "There are thousands of acres of soybeans that won't get cut because of the damage to them."
Some 30 percent of corn crops remain in the field as well.
Producers who were able to harvest part of their crops beforehand at 180 bushels an acre are now seeing less than 100 bushels an acre because of storm damage.
"It's just not going into the combine," Nelson said. "It's laying flat on the ground."
For area farmers, the hope is that the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture will declare the region a disaster area, freeing up millions in farm aid and low-interest loans — funds that could help save farms, Nelson said.
Though many farmers did have crop insurance, some had already harvested portions of their crops and reached the 50 percent crop guarantee.
That means for farmers who lost half their crops to Gustav, crop insurance means nothing.
Nelson said that's a situation many Franklin farmers are finding themselves in.
"It's just the nature of crop insurance," Nelson said "A lot of people are being faced with that situation."
Nelson said area producers are hoping to receive word sometime this week about the availability of federal resources.
"Without some type of help, this agriculture community is in crisis," Nelson said. "It stretches beyond just the farms."
The devastation of this year's cash crops could trickle down into virtually every sector of the Louisiana economy, from gas prices to grocery stores, Nelson said.
U.S. Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-Quitman, said he had met with other members of the Louisiana delegation and they were working to establish some type of farm aid before Congress goes into recess later this month.
"We do know that the damage that has been caused by the same hurricane in the Mid-West will lend us more support when it comes to finding the money," Alexander said.
"We're hoping to have something in place in the next few days," said Alexander. "There is talk that we might leave here Sept. 26 and not come back before the election. If that's the case, we certainly hope we can get some answers before we leave."