BATON ROUGE, La. (KNOE 8 News) - Farmers who lost at least $10,000 because of last year's floods can get federal grants to cover up to $100,000 in such losses, and the application period begins Wednesday.
The $9.5 million block grant program covers farmers and ranchers with operations in any of the 51 parishes declared disaster areas last year by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The LSU AgCenter notes in a news release that those who live in the 13 other parishes can qualify for the grants if even part of their operation is in a covered parish. The grant would cover only losses in the affected parish.
The 13 parishes not covered are Assumption, Cameron, Concordia, Jefferson, Lafourche, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. John, St. Mary, Tensas and Terrebonne.
While U.S. Department of Agriculture disaster programs make farmers eligible for low-interest loans, this program, through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, offers grants that don't have to be repaid.
"Conventional disaster programs like low-interest disaster loans and crop insurance are often inadequate when our farmers are impacted by major disasters like the flooding of 2016," Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain said when he announced the program last month.
The agriculture department has scheduled informational meetings Monday in Winnsboro, Oak Grove and Monroe, and Tuesday in Haughton, Natchitoches and Bunkie.
If farmers' qualified losses add up to more than $9.5 million, they will share the amount on a pro rata basis, AgCenter economist Kurt Guidry said.
Eligible crops include cattle, corn, cotton, crawfish, grain sorghum, hay, rice, soybeans, strawberries, sugarcane, sweet potatoes and wheat.
Farmers must use a crop loss calculator on the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry website to estimate their losses.
"Eligible economic losses determined by the calculator will be reduced by the level of disaster assistance funds received by the producer from other agencies for these same losses. This prevents a duplication of benefits received by the producer," Guidry said.