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USDA declares 52 parishes as disaster areas

October 7, 2008

            Louisiana farmers in all 64 parishes may be eligible for USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) emergency loans or the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program (SURE) due to losses caused by hurricanes Gustav and Ike in September 2008, Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M., said.
“I commend Secretary Schafer for acting so quickly and including all parishes in the disaster declaration,” Strain said. “Louisiana agriculture, aquaculture and forestry are facing unprecedented losses from hurricanes Gustav and Ike. No parish or commodity was spared by these storms.”
Under the declaration, 52 parishes were declared primary natural disaster areas and 12 parishes distinguished as contiguous. The designation makes farmers in both primary and contiguous parishes eligible for consideration for disaster aid from the FSA.
The 52 primary parishes are: Acadia, Allen, Ascension, Assumption, Avoyelles, Beauregard, Bossier, Caddo, Calcasieu, Caldwell, Cameron, Catahoula, Claiborne, Concordia, East Baton Rouge, East Carroll, East Feliciana, Evangeline, Franklin, Grant, Iberia, Iberville, Jefferson Davis, LaSalle, Lafayette, Lafourche, Livingston, Madison, Morehouse, Natchitoches, Ouachita, Plaquemines, Pointe Coupee, Rapides, Richland, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. Helena, St. James, St. John the Baptist, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Mary, Tangipahoa, Tensas, Terrebonne, Union, Vermilion, Webster, West Baton Rouge, West Carroll and West Feliciana.
The 12 contiguous parishes are: Bienville, Desoto, Jackson, Jefferson, Lincoln, Orleans, Red River, Sabine, St. Tammany, Vernon, Washington and Winn.      
Farmers that suffered losses due to the hurricanes should visit their local FSA offices to learn about qualifications for assistance.
“Low interest loans are a start but Louisiana farmers need to get money in their hands so they can prepare for next year’s crop as soon as possible,” Strain said. “Our state economy depends on it.” 
Strain said he spent two weeks in Washington, D.C., lobbying on behalf of Louisiana’s farmers hurt by hurricanes Gustav and Ike. Senator Mary Landrieu and Louisiana’s congressional delegation lined up the support of other states with severe agricultural losses caused by hurricanes, tropical storms, drought, tornadoes and floods that occurred earlier this year.
“I was optimistic the aid bill would pass but it looks like we’ll have to wait for the lame duck session after the presidential election or 2009 when the new administration comes in before we can hope to get help for our farmers,” Strain said.
Strain said he would continue to work with Louisiana’s congressional delegation to get hurricane disaster relief for state farmers.