Farmers stand to lose entire crop when Morganza Spillway opens
POINTE COUPEE PARISH, La. (WAFB) - Ted Glaser has been farming in the Morganza floodway in Pointe Coupee Parish since the 80s. Before him, his father farmed the land as well.
Recently, farming the fertile land has grown tougher. Grain prices have dropped and the weather has not been favorable.
"Bad year, good years, it just hurts,” Glaser said. “Yeah, your hard work is all gone. A lot of sacrifice, I mean, a tremendous amount of sacrifice.”
Back in 2011 when the Army Corps of Engineers opened the Morganza Spillway, Glaser lost his entire crop. Now, as the Corps prepares to open it again to relieve a swollen Mississippi River, he stands to lose everything again.
"I had someone tell me the other day, I like my margaritas, but they said you better get away from margaritas and start shots,” he said. “Take the shot, and I agree with them."
Looking out over 1,000 acres of farmland he has in the floodway, Glaser sees a crop that’s doing well and would produce a nice profit.
“You still see the crop growing. It’s a tremendous crop out here. Next week, the week after, I’ll come up here and see that it’s underwater then it’s, it’s going to hit.”
He has about $300,000 invested in this year’s corn and soybean crops.
“All the inputs are in, especially on the corn crop: seed, herbicides, insecticides, fertilizer, the whole nine yards.”
Until today, he had no assurances money could ever be recovered under federal crop insurance.
"Under the laws of crop insurance, if it is a man-made disaster, then crop insurance is not eligible to pay for the losses of the crop,” said Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain.
Tuesday afternoon, Strain said his office reached an agreement so those who have purchased insurance will be covered. Even then, Glaser said insurance will not cover all his expenses.
“That’s going to pay for some of the expenses,” Glaser said. “I hope it covers our expenses, but it’s almost like going to work off the farm and work for a year with no income, and now this is just 1,000 acres out of 3,500 acres, but 1,000 acres, a third of your crop, the income is gone.”
Strain says his department is working on securing other sources of funding to assist farmers.
“The Livestock Indemnity Program, the Emergency Assistance ELAP program, also to get a secretarial declaration of disaster, which works through our governor and the U.S. Secretary Perdue to where those farmers can participate in other USDA programs and get low interest loans.”
Glaser says even with the assistance, the loss of his crops will hurt.
"It's going to be fine,” he said. “It's just going to be difficult. Just have to stay positive."
Strain says up to 25,000 acres of crops could be affected when the spillway is opened June 2. He says that does not include timber or fisheries.
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