Crop Damage From Rains Could Total $207 Million

Denise Coolman  |  4/19/2005 10:29:14 PM

News Release Distributed 07/09/04 

NEW ORLEANS – Louisiana agricultural producers could see as much as $207 million in economic damages from rains that pelted the state in May and June.

This loss affects an estimated 1.61 million acres, said LSU AgCenter Chancellor Bill Richardson during the 82nd Annual Meeting of the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation general session Friday (July 9).

"The estimate of 1.61 million acres represents nearly 49 percent of the total 3.3 million acres of row crops in Louisiana," Richardson said. "The estimate of $207 million in economic damages represents the LSU AgCenter’s best estimate of current economic difficulties faced by Louisiana producers, but we won’t know the exact total until harvest."

A report on preliminary damage estimates for 46 parishes released by the LSU AgCenter’s Agricultural Economics Department Friday (July 9) shows the figures do not include estimates of quality damage that potentially could develop as a result of adverse weather for commodities other than wheat, hay, fruits and vegetables. The report also states that "future weather patterns and resulting changes in disease and insect pressure could dramatically alter the extent of this damage."

During the middle and latter parts of May, regions of the state experienced rain in amounts ranging from 10 inches to well over 20 inches. While the excessive rains in May caused some damage in certain geographic locations in the state, it was not thought to be widespread, and the total economic impact was relatively minor compared to previous periods of weather-related production difficulties. But persistent rains through much of June are thought to have affected a much larger portion of the state and to have generated considerably higher economic damages.

"With many commodities still in the early stages of crop development, the ability to accurately project yield damage is extremely limited," Richardson said. "This is particularly true when attempting to access quality damage issues. The exact nature of the damage will be largely dependent on weather conditions over the next month."

Louisiana producers definitely need the rain to stop, said Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture Bob Odom.

"The rain has damaged our crops," Odom said. "Some producers have planted and have lost everything. Other producers haven’t been able to plant. We need the rain to stop so our producers can do what is required to get crop insurance to pay."

Louisiana Farm Bureau President Ronnie Anderson, who traveled the state the last week of June surveying crop damage, said farmers might see a dramatic drop in crop quality as well as yield.

"We had a great crop before all the rains began," Anderson said. "Now farmers are going to have to work hard to get an average harvest at best. It's a shame to see the condition of these crops. Farmers had the crop in the palms of their hands, but Mother Nature had other plans."

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Writer: A. Denise Coolman at (318) 644-5865 or dcoolman@agcenter.lsu.edu

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