Storm damage to Louisiana agriculture could top $580M

(File photo)

The Louisiana agriculture industry has suffered at least $584 million in damage after Hurricane Ida walloped the southeastern portion of the state last month with strong winds and flooding, according to a new report from LSU AgCenter experts. 

Timber damage comprises about half that amount, according to economist Kurt Guidry. Another 35% is attributable to the loss of infrastructure such as fences, machinery, equipment and buildings. Sugarcane, fruit, vegetable and ornamental horticulture crops as well as livestock were affected, too. 

The $584 million figure includes Guidry’s estimates for impacts yet to fully play out, such as reduced yields for crops that remained in the field during the storm and have not been harvested, and the potential for increased production costs. Guidry compiled the document using information gathered by AgCenter agents and commodity specialists around the state along with personnel with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry and the U.S. Forestry Service. 

About 139,000 acres of sugarcane—one-quarter of Louisiana’s total cane crop—are projected to have somewhat lower yields due to storm damage, Guidry says. He estimates the overall impact to cane producers to be about $35.4 million—about 7% of the total annual value of the industry, he says. See the report.