Louisiana officials present facts of hurricane devastation to agriculture

William Richardson, Benedict, Linda F.  |  9/20/2008 12:48:13 AM

News Release Distributed 09/19/08

LSU AgCenter Chancellor Bill Richardson was part of a group of agricultural representatives that met with Louisiana’s Congressional delegation earlier this week to provide an accurate picture of the severe damage caused to Louisiana agriculture as a result of hurricanes Gustav and Ike.

“We wanted the Congressional delegation to have all the facts as up-to-date as possible,” Richardson said. “LSU AgCenter agricultural economists, commodity specialists and county agents did extensive documentation of the devastation to help make the case for federal assistance as soon as possible. Congress is expected to act soon.”

Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry Mike Strain led the Louisiana group that also met with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer during the Sept. 16-17 visit to Washington, D.C.

Other members of the group included Louisiana Farm Bureau President Ronnie Anderson; Sen. Francis Thompson, chair of the Senate ag committee; Rep. Andy Anders, chair of the House ag committee; Rep. Bodi White; Rep. Sam Little and Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu.

“I was impressed with how receptive the Congressional representatives were to our concerns and how supportive they are to the needs of Louisiana farmers,” Richardson said. “Devastating losses in the agricultural community affect the entire state’s economy.”

Dr. Kurt Guidry, LSU AgCenter agricultural economist, said the estimated revenue lost in the agriculture and forestry industries because of the two hurricanes is more than $635 million. In addition, Dr. Rex Caffey, LSU AgCenter agricultural economist who works with the fisheries and other natural resource-based industries, said the loss there, which is more difficult to predict, is anywhere between $69 million and $125 million.

These estimates do not include losses to infrastructure, which preliminary estimates place at more than $10 million for agriculture and forestry and from $63 to $89 million for aquaculture and fisheries. They also do not include any increased costs producers may incur as a result of the storms.

The latest estimates of the loss to Louisiana agriculture and its infrastructure are available on the LSU AgCenter’s Web site, www.lsuagcenter.com. Click on “Agricultural Disasters: Loss & Recovery” on the front page.

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Contact: Bill Richardson at (225) 578-4161, or brichardson@agcenter.lsu.edu

Writer: Linda Foster Benedict at (225) 578-2937, or lbenedict@agcenter.lsu.edu
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