approaching the crawfish farmer. If
the crawfish farmer takes his field
out of production based on your
projected construction timeline and
that timeline later changes, you will
most likely have to purchase that
crop and another crop rotation when
construction actually occurs.
Paying for Damages
The cost of crop damages is usually
much higher than the cost of the
right of way or easement. Because
crawfish are often a “cash” crop, many
crawfish farmers are reluctant to
provide you their yield or sales data
on their crawfish production. The
LSU Agricultural Center has basic
yield and economic data on crawfish
production on which you can base
your crop damage payments. The
average yield for crawfish, depending
on whether it is continuous
production or crop rotation, can vary
from 800 lbs. to 1200 lbs. per acre.
In addition to crop damages resulting
from construction, there is also the
potential for payment of damages
to the crawfish farmer’s land and
farming operations. Damages to
the drainage, irrigation, levees
and roads are the most common
and expensive. Mitigation of these
damages can be accomplished by
utilizing an Agricultural Landowner
Questionnaire during the early
access/survey permission phase of
the project. The information the land
agent needs to obtain includes:
• What drainage will be affected
by the construction route?
Consider both natural and farm
• Is there a need for rerouting
drainage during construction
to prevent interference with
additional acreage on the farm?
• Location of drainage culverts,
including type and size.
• Location of erosion controls
structures, such as pipe drops
• What fields drain into the
affected land and how many
acres are affected?
• Is there an above ground
irrigation ditch or an
underground irrigation pipeline?
• Is the land precision leveled and
what percent of slope?
• Was the land laser leveled and
who did it?
• Cost per acre to level in the past.
LEVEES AND ROADS
• What levee and field roads will
need repair after construction is
• Is there a need to reroute access
roads to prevent interference of
• Will field roads used need
limestone applied for access?
It works best when the land agent
uses a large aerial map with the
pipeline or project route. Have the
farmer mark the location of drainage
and irrigation structures, as well as
the direction the fields drain.
Educate Your Client
It is important and useful to educate
your client early in the project on
what damages and amounts they
can reasonably expect to pay. This
helps your client budget and have
reasonable expectations of project
costs. The amount of damages
paid can be greatly influenced
by historical payments by prior
projects, the number and identity
of “influential” landowners along
the project route and the timing
of construction and crop cycles
affected. Construction methods,
such as double ditching with soil
separation, can prevent future
problems and damages. Suggest
to your client that they utilize a
certified Louisiana or Texas crop
consultant who is familiar with the
Crawfish farmers are the most
interesting and intelligent business
people you will talk to while
standing in the mud. Ask questions
and learn about their business!
You probably will not be able to
reach a farmer by telephone during
planting and harvest season. Get in
your truck and drive out to the field.
The farmer will be more willing to
climb off their tractor or out of the
boat to talk to you. After all, you are
in the farmer’s “office” now! J
Greg Spicer, JD, is the Louisiana Regional Director for
Contract Land Staff (CLS), a North American right
of way services company. His primary focus includes
pipeline and electric transmission projects. Prior to
joining CLS, Greg maintained a private law practice
for 16 years in Lake Charles, Louisiana.