Louisiana Flood Victims Still Waiting on Aid

April 03, 2017

NASHVILLE, Tenn (RFD-TV) It has been more than a year since the Red River overflowed its banks into fields and pastures in Northwest Louisiana, yet residents are still waiting on federal aid. With everything going on, Louisiana farmers are still moving forward.

On March 10, 2016 Dustin Morris was wading through chest deep water and just over a year later he is walking the same path from his power unit... just a lot drier. Morris describes his experiences, “One of the things that I remember most about this experience was how cold this water was. This was as cold as I had ever been in my life. As I walked out, waded to this power unit and as we came back to get it later on in the day. it was just absolutely freezing.”

The cold waters cut deep into Morris’ memory and into the land on this part of Double M Farms. To regain control of his farm, Morris had to replant 300 acres of his corn crop and delay planting all of his other crops. That caused the crops to yield ten percent less than the previous year: not enough to trigger payments from crop insurance. Morris states, “We just need different types of insurance. We need true shallow loss problems, or shallow loss coverage, I guess, because last year, across the farm, because of the floods and the way our planting dates were changed, we had average yields down 10%. And if you bought a 75% insurance policy, you’d have to be down 25% before you trigger it. With the margins we’re working on now, those kinds of insurance. They don’t do us any good.”

Overall, agriculture in Louisiana took a 310-million dollar hit, according to Louisiana commissioner of agriculture and forestry Dr. Mike Strain. He’s gone to Washington to ask for $50 million in aid... congress only approved ten. Strain states, “We’re geared up here at LAFA to distribute it in a grant program, similar to what we did in a loan and grant program after Gustav and Ike and we’re working feverishly to get those monies, and the first installation of that would be ten million dollars, but we haven’t received those. But as soon as we receive those, we’re going to try and get that money back into the hands to cover uninsured losses.”

Morris says he knows farmers who went out of business because of years of low prices and disasters and eventually, you could see the difference at the grocery store, “People need to understand that their food doesn’t come from Walmart or Kroger, it comes from these farms and without a safety net, as more farmers go out of business, we could potentially have a food shortage in the United States and that’s something we can’t afford to have.”

Commissioner Strain says when the first ten million dollar check arrives, the Louisiana agricultural finance authority will be ready to distribute those dollars.