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Story Archives: Emergency declaration still pending
|Emergency declaration still pending|
So far, there has been no word on a federal declaration of emergency requested by Gov. Bobby Jindal two weeks ago, according to Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture Mike Strain.
Strain said Monday his office is still awaiting word from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture to learn whether Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will approve Jindal's request to declare an agricultural emergency in the wake of a summer drought and fall flooding.
"Upon my request, Gov. Jindal sent a letter urging the USDA for a natural disaster declaration," Strain said. "Earlier this summer, much of Louisiana was suffering from severe drought that likely will drastically reduce cotton, soybean and sweet potato yields."
Strain also said recent storms could create additional crop losses.
"If that wasn't enough, producers have also been plagued by heavy rains in recent weeks, hampering harvest activities and further reducing crop yields and quality," Strain said.
Louisiana agriculture department officials estimate rains have cost farmers across the state as much as $275 million so far, with double-digit crop loss in cotton, soybeans and sweet potatoes.
"Figures show cotton could suffer more than 46 percent loss in revenue, while sweet potatoes could lose more than 26 percent and soybeans more than 21 percent," Strain said.
A federal declaration of emergency could unlock a number of loan programs for producers hit by the droughts and flooding.
Those loans are crucial to the continued health of Louisiana's agriculture industry, according to Strain.
Though Vilsack has made no determination on the Louisiana declaration, six parishes will benefit from declarations of emergency in the state of Mississippi.
The six affected parishes are: Concordia, East Carroll, East Feliciana, Madison, Tensas and West Feliciana.
Because those parishes are contiguous with Mississippi counties that have been declared a disaster area, the Louisiana parishes will benefit from the same programs.
That declaration stems from flooding that occurred in April and June of this year.