The American Sugar Cane League (ASCL) passed a resolution encouraging the United States Army Corps of Engineers to look at ways to protect sugarcane and other agricultural farmland in Louisiana’s Sugar Belt.
In recent years sugarcane farmers have suffered from abnormal field inundation caused by hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav, Ike and Isaac.
The ASCL’s board of directors voted unanimously at their Oct. meeting to "support a resolution that encourages the Corps of Engineers to give serious consideration to farmland when planning protection levees.”
ASCL General Manager Jim Simon said the 22-parish Sugar Belt produces more than 2.9 billion pounds of raw sugar on 408,000 acres. The area is also home to more than one million residents.
"Our resolution is very simple,” Simon said. "We are asking the Corps to take agricultural farmland into account as they plan future flood mitigation projects in south Louisiana.”
Simon said recent hurricanes have flooded fields not normally impacted by storm surge.
Homes in agricultural communities like LaPlace, Reserve, Lutcher and Gramercy that have never flooded were damaged by water from Hurricane Isaac, Simon said. Hurricane Rita caused a storm surge that flooded sugarcane fields as far north as Erath and Lake Charles in 2005, he added.
The League’s resolution comes on the heels of a recent resolution supported by the River Region Chamber of Commerce.
The River Region Chamber’s "Storm Defense Compact of Southeast Louisiana” asks the Corps to enter into "Katrina mode” and waiver wetlands mitigation credits for public projects and create a system that awards credits to municipalities for improvements created by the public project.
Other highlights of the Storm Defense Compact include:
Visit YouTube.com to view "Sugarcane fields flooded by Hurricane Isaac” for more information.
- Development of an updated storm modeling program with more accurate flood-risk projections by the National Weather Service.
- Requests a reevaluation of the state’s concept of operations, contra-flow plan and flood prevention projects for evacuation routes and highways flooded during Hurricane Isaac.
- Forgiveness of the state’s local match requirement for Federal Emergency Management Agency reimbursements and increased state flood control funding dedicated to the construction of levees in unprotected areas.