“I asked the Sweet Potato Commission to consider the reduction, and they approved it in mid-January,” said Louisiana Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Bob Odom.

“I realize many of you may have lost considerably more than 25 percent, but we must address the situation as to what will best serve the industry as a whole,” Odom said in a letter to farmers informing them of the fee reduction.

Damage from Tropical Storm Isidore and Hurricane Lili and rains during October and November caused large losses to the state’s $103 million sweet potato industry.

“I know some of you are faced with tough decisions about your business and its ability to remain profitable,” Odom said.

“I will continue to press the current national administration for disaster relief for America’s farms and rural communities until something is done for you,” he added.

The fee adjustment will come from average yield per acre estimates.

Invoices have already been sent out to farmers reflecting the reduction. Producers who have already paid their fees in full will automatically receive a credit in their account towards next year’s assessment.

Requests for check refunds must be made by close of business Feb.3, but amounts less than $6 will only be credited to next year’s fees.

Refund requests should be made to Craig Roussel at the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, P.O. Box 3596, Baton Rouge, LA 70821. The phone number is (225) 952-8100: fax (225) 925-3760: .