Katrina to cost farmers $2 bln, disaster aid sought

WASHINGTON - Hurricane Katrina will cost U.S. farmers an estimated $2 billion in Gulf Coast crop and livestock losses and higher fuel bills throughout the farm sector, the American Farm Bureau said on Thursday.

Another grower group, the National Farmers Union, urged the government to provide disaster aid for hurricane damage as well as Midwest states hit by drought and floods.

Crop losses from the hurricane were still being assessed by federal and state experts, and farm-state lawmakers were wary of acting until a reliable tally was made, aides said.

Terry Francl, senior economist of the Farm Bureau, said his analysis showed "considerable harm" from the hurricane to Gulf Coast crops of sugar cane, cotton, soybeans and corn. Farmers in a broader area also will be hit by higher fuel prices and crippled Mississippi River traffic that drive down market prices.

Francl said he estimated the storm would mean at least $1 billion in damage to crops and livestock, and another $1 billion in indirect costs.

"Unfortunately, crop, livestock and poultry losses in the Delta may be the tip of the iceberg," Francl said in a statement.

calendar icon 2 September 2005
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