Agriculture Losses in La. from Hurricane Rita to Top $472 Million

October 4, 2005

The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry reported that with preliminary estimates in, it appears agriculture and forestry will take at least a $472 million hit from Hurricane Rita.

Coupled with the growing losses from Hurricane Katrina, now at $1.01 billion, Louisiana’s farmers have sustained a crushing blow in the middle of what many saw as a promising crop year.

“I’m hearing from farmers all over the state and the stories sadden me. These people have worked so long and so hard to provide for the people of this country. They’ve been keeping all of us fed and clothed and now they’re struggling to do the same just for themselves,” Odom said. “It’s hard to remember when losses have been so widespread across almost every crop and in every region of the state.”

Odom said the statistics released by Dr. Kurt Guidry of the LSU AgCenter will help him make the case for Louisiana farmers tomorrow when he meets with USDA Secretary Mike Johanns in Westwego.

“I’m going to ask for everything I can to help Louisiana farmers and foresters,” he said. “Debt relief, funds for infrastructure repairs – I’ve got a list a mile long and I’ll use every minute I have with the Secretary to ask for help for Louisiana agriculture.”

According to Odom, the preliminary estimates of losses from Hurricane Rita are as follows:

–Rice $9.3 million; this does not include losses of rice in storage facilities that flooded.
–Soybeans $3.5 million; this does not include projections for quality reduction from delayed harvest.
–Cotton $38.4 million; this does not include potential fees assessed by mills.
–Sugarcane $68 million; this does not include the assumption that producers will see 10 to 15 percent lower production in 2006 due to damage from the storm.
–Forestry $226 million.
–Christmas trees $1.1 million
–Cattle $33 million; this only represents the losses to expected revenue from cattle sales in 2005.
–Dairy $89,000.
–Hay/Forage $9.5 million.
–Poultry $2.5 million.
–Vegetables $379,000.
–Wholesale nursery $1.4 million.
–Pecans $5.6 million.
–Citrus $1.5 million.
–Bee hives (honey) $595,000.
–Crawfish $12.5 million.
–Alligators $6.9 million.
–Shrimp $18.2 million.
–Crab $3.5 million.
–Menhaden $8 million.
–Finfish $2.1 million.
–Oysters $1.3 million.
–Hunting leases, charter boats and other $18 million.

Odom estimates another $500 million in losses from damage to equipment, processing, packing and storage facilities, and other infrastructure components.

“It’s important to remember that this is all in addition to damages and losses associated with Hurricane Katrina. We’re now looking, at minimum, at a $1.4 billion agriculture disaster. I expect that number so easily reach $2 billion,” Odom stated. “I’ve been told that poultry losses alone could be five to 10 times higher than this initial estimate. This just proves we’ve got a long road ahead of us.”

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