This used to be farmland

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wwltv.com

Posted on May 19, 2011 at 7:52 PM

Updated Thursday, May 19 at 8:31 PM

Maya Rodriguez / Eyewitness News

POINTE COUPEE, LA – The opening of the Morganza Spillway sent water into the Atchafalaya Basin and straight into the heart of some farming communities.

Hit especially hard are farmers in Pointe Coupee Parish, where water now covers thousands of acres.

Land has turned into lake at the Four Oaks Farm in Pointe Coupee Parish.

“This is definitely the worst thing we’ve had to deal with,” said farmer Marty Frey. The opening of the spillway wiped out crops on some 400 acres of rice, soybean and crawfish farming.

Between 15 and 20 feet of water now sits on his crops, costing him hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“Not only are we going to be dealing with the crop loss, but, we’ve got to try to budget into our operation cleanup and repair costs,” he said.

Those additional costs come from the additional debris that now flows over much of the farmland in Pointe Coupee Parish – about 12 percent of the total acreage there.

Damage to the farming industry, in Pointe Coupee alone, is estimated at $22 million.

“It’s a big gap in what these farmers rely on for their living, “said Miles Brashier of the LSU Ag Center. “It’s drowned all their crops out.”

Farmers say part of the irony in dealing with all of the water is that the area is also going through a drought. They say that sugar cane stalks are about two feet shorter than normal due to the lack of rain.

“We have kind of a combination of famine or feast,” said Brashier.

Farmer Frey said that while his problems are big, he understands that the spillway needed to be opened.

“If that’s what they needed to do, then they needed to get it done,” he said. “The most important thing was to take care of everyone else.”

Which has left many of the farmers in Pointe Coupee to take care of themselves, once the water eventually recedes.

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