Eligible agribusiness owners who suffered damages from hurricanes Gustav and Ike will have another opportunity to apply for low-interest loans through the Louisiana Agribusiness Recovery Loan Program, according to Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain and Louisiana Recovery Authority Executive Director Robin Keegan.

In 2009, LDAF’s Louisiana Agricultural Finance Authority distributed more than $40 million to about 1,100 Louisiana farmers, ranchers and agribusiness owners to aid their recovery from losses caused by hurricanes Gustav and Ike through the Louisiana Farm and Agribusiness Recovery Grant and Loan programs.

After last year’s program, all of the $34.5 million set aside for farmers was disbursed, but $2.2 million remains available for a second phase of the agribusiness program.

“These recovery programs were incredibly successful last year,” Strain said. “We were able to deliver tens of millions of much needed dollars directly into the hands of Louisiana’s farmers, ranchers and agribusiness owners.”

“Agribusinesses help our Louisiana farmers and ranchers bring their products to market and contribute to a multibillion industry that employs thousands across the state,” Keegan said. “Providing this additional aid will help these businesses through the tough economic times they’ve faced since Gustav and Ike came ashore in 2008.”

The Agribusiness Recovery Program provides low-interest loans to agribusinesses like aerial applicators, cotton gins and elevators, and loggers.

“Our state’s agricultural sector has endured financial hardships caused by natural disasters and high fuel and fertilizer costs which is forcing many individuals out of business,” Strain said. “Agribusinesses like feed stores, aerial applicators and grain elevators are vital to Louisiana’s agricultural community.

Both the Louisiana Farm and Agribusiness Recovery programs are funded using U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds, which the LRA set aside for aid to the agriculture community after it suffered great losses caused by 2008 storms. In total, Louisiana received more than $1 billion in CDBG funding for recovery.

Agribusiness owners that already received a loan during the first phase of the program are not eligible to reapply but owners that applied and were denied may reapply.

The application period for Phase 2 ends May 28. Completed applications must be postmarked or hand delivered and date stamped by the LDAF no later than 5 p.m., May 28.

For application packets and additional information, call (225) 922-1277 or toll-free (866) 295-0081. The LDAF Web site is www.LDAF.la.gov.