“Everything is affected,” he told a group of area farmers and business people at a noon meeting Monday at Thomas Ja- son Lingo Community Center.
He said he is in regular contact with Gov. Bobby Jindal and that the governor has asked for a disaster declaration for all of Louisiana from the federal government. He said that he briefed the president of the United States on the situation.
Present with Strain at the meeting with close to 300 con- cerned farmers from the area were State Sen. Mike Walsworth, Representatives Charles Chaney and Sam Little and the West Carroll parish police jury. A representative of Congressman Rodney Alexander’s office was in attendance. The congress- man has left for Washington, D.C. to attend a meeting of the appropriations committee on Wednesday. He is a member of that committee.
Strain stated that the situation brought on by the floods-- which reached an estimated 20 inches of rainfall in the area— makes this a unique situation at harvest time that needs special supplemental appropriations help for each and every farmer and each and every crop.
The astronomical losses will come from several directions according to speakers at the meeting.
The flooding came at a time when the harvest of a successful crop was beginning.
Damage not only comes from crops rotting in the field and reduced yields, but from the fact that many farmers will owe elevators a crop they cannot deliver and crop loans that cannot be repaid, as well as accounts with many other agricultural related businesses.
The commissioner urged farmers to take photographs, to keep up with expenses and to keep good records. “If you have a tractor un- der water, let us know,” he stated. Strain also suggested people go online on their computers to search for FEMA pro- grams that might help their situations.
Many people have also experienced flooding in their homes.
Reese Traylor, director of FSA, urged farmers to sign up by September 16 to make sure they qualify for disaster assistance if they are not insured. He stressed that for those in- sured, every crop no matter how small must be insured or there would be no eligibility. The sign-up is not for insurance but is a buy- in to be covered for disaster.
“Let us pull up your report,” he stated, encouraging them to be sure that every crop is reported.
Sweet potato farmers expressed concern about their crop since the potatoes can rot in storage following harvest due to damage from excessive water. Harvest is costly. The commissioner again stressed that the current situation is unique because it hap- pened at harvest time.
Steve Rye asked that the situation be expressed to the president and the people in Washington that this is a unique situation, “… one in a hundred years.”
Among the many concerns about crops, an elevator operator told the commissioner that soybean crops are not meeting quality ex- porters want because of rains.
The area had experienced heavy rain before the effects of Gustav.
An elevator operator pointed out, “This is the most expensive crop ever produced. It was a good crop.”
One member of the group assembled stated that low interest loans are not going to help the situation.
“As a state we are committed to do what we can to help you. We are all in the same boat,” officials told the group.