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|Jindal seeks ag disaster declaration|
Gov. Bobby Jindal has asked the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture to declare a disaster in Louisiana, after a summer drought stunted crops and recent rains have stricken harvests.
Jindal made the request Friday in a letter to Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack.
This has not been a fun year for farmers. A drought in early summer caused problems but rains since early September have made for dismal harvest conditions.
Concordia County Agent Glen Daniels says he recorded 3.2 inches of rain in the Ferriday area Wednesday morning for the previous 24 hours. He also noted that aflatoxin has been found in unharvested corn acreage. "The further deterioration of unharvested crops is sickening," he said.
Jindal submitted the letter at the behest of state agriculture commissioner Mike Strain, who said farmers around the state are suffering because of inclement weather.
"Our farmers and ranchers are experiencing hardships from the summer drought that are intensified by the current rainfall," Strain said in a prepared news release.
Strain said the disaster declaration would allow farmers and ranchers to participate in a number of federal assistance programs.
Jindal's letter singled out the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments Program as one such program.
Jindal said he has asked Farm Service Agency officials to begin compiling data on various parishes affected by the drought and rain.
Jindal noted some crops were harvested in time, but said others are still in the fields.
"While practically all of the corn and grain sorghum has been harvested, we have a large number of acres of cotton, rice, soybeans and sweet potatoes to be harvested," Jindal said. "Some of the cotton had been defoliated and practically all the rice and a large percentage of the soybeans and sweet potatoes are ready for harvest."
Yet, lingering rains are preventing producers from getting into the field. That spells bad news, according to Jindal.
"We believe additional producers in other parishes will have qualifying losses due to the current ongoing situation," Jindal told Vilsack.
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