Dustin Harrell, LSU’s rice specialist is reporting that Louisiana rice farmers stand to lose roughly $14 million due to the historic August 2016 flooding that has devastated our state. Other analysts are claiming losses could be closer to $30 million.
We eat a lot of rice and there is none finer than what our state’s farmers harvest from the clay pan prairies of parishes like Jefferson Davis, Acadia, St. Landry, Allen, Lafayette. Calcasieu, Vermilion, Cameron, and Evangeline.
If you sit down to a bowl of jambalaya in Louisiana there’s a good chance that you’re eating the toil of an old rice farmer from one of these parishes. You can pay a lot more for fancy, boutique rice from some far-flung province or nation-state but you will not eat better rice than what is coming from Louisiana.
While Louisiana no longer leads the US in rice production (that mantle belongs to Arkansas) our state’s rice farmers still took some heavy blows during the month of August. Rice fields completely submerged under standing water can only survive for two days and in many instances the western parish farmers fields have been under water for longer than five.
Thankfully 80% of Louisiana farmers had already brought in their first, or early, 2016 rice harvest but their second or ‘ratoon’ crop is at least partially lost. Farmers pay the bills with crop one and put the profits from crop two in the bank. No crop two? It’ll be a long hard winter.
Some farmers are reporting that inundated rice is forming new sprouts damaging the grain that otherwise would be eaten.
Louisianans are notoriously tough and hard-headed. We’ve suffered through the worst natural disasters in the history of the US yet we still go whistling past the graveyard, beer in hand, coon dick bone at the ready.
Something tells me our old-school, double tough rice farmers will fight back and be right back in the fields once the floodwaters subside.