The National Milk Producers Federation sent a letter on behalf of dairy farmers in Mississippi
to the USDA on the losses caused by Hurricane Katrina. Those costs are estimated at more than $40 million, with half that figure up-front expenses due to structural damages and dumped milk, and the other half the growing loss of production due to injured cows.
Meanwhile, the USDA's preliminary estimate is that the initial cost to dairy farmers from Katrina is about $3 million. NMPF hopes the detailed numbers given to USDA will provide the necessary data needed to more fully inform the government's damage assessment. Overall, the USDA's estimate of total U.S. agricultural production losses due to hurricane Katrina in the mid-South - along with drought in the eastern Corn Belt - places farm-related losses at nearly $900 million.
"Given the severity of the hurricane, the agricultural losses could have been much greater," USDA Secretary Mike Johanns says. "With that said, there is a long road ahead for many of our producers who face infrastructure and long-term losses not accounted for in this assessment. USDA is committed to supporting producers throughout long and short term recovery."
USDA has appointed two senior advisors to assist in coordinating Hurricane efforts in the affected region. Gilbert Gonzalez, senior advisor to the Secretary, and Farm Service Agency Administrator James Little will serve in this new leadership capacity.