Louisiana faces limited crop loss after Hurricane Isaac - lsureveille.com: News

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Louisiana faces limited crop loss after Hurricane Isaac

Past storms brought more damage

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Posted: Tuesday, September 11, 2012 12:36 am

Louisiana is expected to suffer about $100 million in crop loss from Hurricane Isaac, said LSU AgCenter Agricultural Economist Kurt Guidry.

The state’s loss is minimal compared to previous storms and last year’s drought, he said. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita damaged $1.5 billion worth of crops, and the drought brought a $400 million hit, Guidry said.

“We feel like we probably dodged a bullet to some extent with this storm,” Guidry said. “Katrina and Rita, we had storm surge basically the whole length of our coast. Here the storm surge was more limited.”

Parishes in southeastern Louisiana will likely suffer worse economic loss because agriculture is the parishes’ main income, Guidry said.

The numbers could increase or decrease by harvest, depending on September’s weather, he said.

Guidry said though many crops like corn and soybeans were hurt, sugarcane will take the biggest hit because harvesting and planting are taking place now.

“Because most the cane was kind of knocked down by the wind … producers have to change the way they plant,” he said.

Louisiana seafood was also affected. Sammy’s Grill manager J.K. Lockhart said the quality of produce has decreased and he cannot order fresh oysters, but he isn’t quick to blame the hurricane.

“We’ve seen decrease in quality in some things, but I’m not sure if it’s directly correlated,” Lockhart said.

Lockhart said the restaurant orders food from local suppliers, but some suppliers outsource the items. He said some vegetable prices have also been raised recently, but they’re still reasonable.

Oysters and crab were difficult to come by as well, Lockhart said.

Todd John of Bayou Gulf Seafood said all oyster beds from Alabama to the Atchafalaya River were closed for the duration of the storm, and beds near Houma just reopened Saturday. He said oysters should be delivered to restaurants like Sammy’s this week.

Even still, Isaac’s impact wasn’t as devastating as previous storms or the 2010 BP oil spill, he said.

“I’m in Houma. We got the eye of the storm,” John said. “Everything to the east of us was really bad.”

Sammy’s, which is open 365 days a year, closed Aug. 29, the day of Isaac’s landfall, Lockhart said.

“We haven’t closed since Hurricane Gustav. We were open during the oil spill,” he said.

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