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Commissioner Mike Strain asks for disaster declaration

October 8, 2009

Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M., said a federal disaster declaration is needed to protect farming parishes where severe drought during the early summer will drastically reduce yield on cotton, rice, soybeans and sweet potatoes this season.

Strain sent a letter to Governor Bobby Jindal Sept. 24 urging him to push the United States Department of Agriculture for the disaster declaration.

“Our farmers and ranchers are experiencing hardships from the summer drought that are intensified by the current rainfall,” Strain said. “I’ve asked Governor Jindal to send a letter to USDA Secretary Thomas Vilsack recommending the disaster declaration.”

Strain said the disaster declaration will allow farmers and ranchers to participate in federal assistance programs.

Nearly all of the state’s corn and grain sorghum has been harvested, but excessive rainfall over the last two weeks has drastically slowed the cotton, rice, soybean and sweet potato harvesting process, Strain said.

Strain said he has asked the USDA’s Farm Services Agency to prepare individual parish reports on the drought and harvest situation and submit their findings directly to the governor’s office.

“Agriculture plays a major role in our state’s economy and we must do everything possible to ensure that our farmers and ranchers can stay solvent and productive,” Strain said.