More US government aid has been targeted at the southern states to help with the clear up following hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

On top of initial allocations of $152m (87m) in emergency loans for crop and stock losses and $20m (11m) for emergency conservation, Washington has committed another $9m (5m) towards the cost of removing debris and rebuilding fencing.

“Nearly every fence is down or has some damage to it,” said a spokesman for the Mississippi Farm Bureau. “Cattle are roaming free and a lot were lost.”

But it was Louisiana where most damage was done, with an estimated 30,000 cattle lost following hurricane Rita. “If we just had some cattle to fence in we’d be doing well at this point,” said a spokesman for the Louisiana Farm Bureau.

Rice fields and sugar cane were also seriously damaged.

But longer term, the cost of the hurricane is putting even more pressure on the overall farm budget. With a new US Farm Bill due to be in place by 2007, and with the US economy running at a massive budgetary deficit, farm legislators are under huge pressure to deliver significant savings in farm spending.