Flooding damage to agriculture now estimated at $277 million

(09/13/16) BATON ROUGE, La. – An LSU AgCenter economist now estimates that last month’s historic flooding in south Louisiana will cost farmers $277 million, more than doubling his original figure of $110 million.

Kurt Guidry, the economist, said that means Louisiana’s agriculture industry has lost at least $367 million of crops, livestock and equipment to floods in 2016. Before the August flood, north Louisiana farmers suffered $90 million of damage during flooding in March.

“These impacts will likely create significant financial challenges for many agricultural producers who were already under considerable financial stress resulting from low commodity production in 2015 and low commodity prices in both 2015 and 2016,” Guidry said.

The estimates account for production losses, quality damage, increased production costs and infrastructure damage and losses. AgCenter county agents gathered parish-level data that Guidry used in his calculations.

The majority of the $277 million impact comes from reduced yields along with quality losses that render crops unmarketable, Guidry said.

Louisiana’s soybean and rice crops both suffered about $69 million in damage. Corn saw about $44 million in damage, and cotton took a $26 million hit.

At least $4 million worth of cattle died or had to be relocated in the flood. The livestock industry is also coping with $8 million in damage to hay.

Many other commodities, including grain sorghum, sweet potatoes, sugarcane, fruits and vegetables, and ornamental horticulture crops, were damaged.

Farmers are likely to run into more problems before the season ends.

“Weather conditions for the remainder of the growing and harvest seasons will be highly influential on how the estimates may change and evolve,” Guidry said. “We still have several areas of the state that are continuing to get frequent rainfall.”

Rains are causing harvest delays, which can worsen the yields and quality of crops that remain in fields, Guidry said. He stressed that the full impact of the August flood will not be known until farmers complete their harvests later this year.

9/13/2016 6:10:50 PM
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