La. congresswoman offers resolution to help farmers and ranchers through droughts
BATON ROUGE - With Louisiana battling record-breaking drought, farmers and ranchers are stuck with extra expenses to keep their crops and animals alive.
U.S. Rep. Julia Letlow, R-La., wants to expand relief under the Drought Assistance Improvement, allowing for quicker payments when times get tough.
Amelia Kent is a cattle rancher in Clinton. Normally, Kent grows her own hay to feed cattle. Due to this year's drought, she's having to pay $200 per cow for food.
"We have ponds that are going dry," Kent said. "Many hay being cut is at a fraction of the yield that it usually is."
The Drought Assistance Improvement Act aims to grant farmers and ranchers like Kent a monthly stipend when a parish faces four weeks of consecutive drought. As it stands, an eight-week drought equals two monthly payouts.
Congresswoman Julia Letlow says the eight weeks is too long for farmers and ranchers to wait for assistance.
"When you talk about small communities like mine in rural Louisiana, that has a trickle-down effect where it affects entire communities if a farm goes under," Letlow said.
The U.S. Drought Monitor documents weather conditions across the country, determining when relief programs are activated. Kent criticized the system, saying it's not the most reliable.
"We were having a lot of concerns that the map, which is updated on a weekly basis, does not accurately reflect how dry the state was," Kent said.
Congresswoman Letlow acknowledges that many have lost money due to uncontrollable weather patterns.
"Farmers and ranchers have a silent partner in their business models, day in and day out, and that's mother nature," Kent said. "You can try to account for as many variables that go into a business model as you can, but when you're working with Mother Nature, that is the one variable you have no control over."
The House Resolution was introduced Sept. 26 and will be discussed on the House floor in the coming weeks.