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Volcano could cost farmers 260 million

Washington State farmers will suffer up to $260 million in losses from the Mount St. Helens eruption, President Jimmy Carter was told Thursday.

The projected losses were calculated by the state Department of Agriculture based on some estimates by Washington State University's School of Agriculture.

Officials had no acreage estimates of the damaged or their exact loca-tions. Most of the estimates were compiled from discussions with farmers, industry officials and extension agents.

There are discrepancies between the $200 million WSU estimates and those given to the president. He was told up to $50 million in damage may have been done to tree fruits. "The WSU estimates are that there will be no significant reduction to tree fruits, specialty crops or seed crops," said Terry Day, WSU extension service.

"We had discussions with (fruit) industry officials and felt we needed to crank some numbers in there... we're not trying to project any gloom or doom, but we are drying to be realistic," said Art Scheunemann, assistant to the state director of agriculture.

The WSU estimate represents a loss of about $200 million or about 10 percent of the 1979 state value for all crops of $2.4 billion.

WSU and the state disagreed on alfalfa crop losses. The state esti-mates 40 percent of the crop, or nearly all of d the first cutting, is a total loss. WSU estimated about 10 to 20 percent of the crop was a total loss.

Other WSU estimates, generally in agreement with estimates given the president include:

* Wheat will take the largest share of the losses at $75 million to $125 million, about 15 to 25 percent of the 1 979 wheat crop value.

That would be just slightly less than losses from the 1977 drought, which took about 30 percent of the wheat crop value. Hardest hit were club wheat growing areas, officials said.

* Barley is estimated at a 15 to 25 percent loss at $7.5 million to $12 million.

* Pea crop losses estimated at $3.5 million to $7.5 million.

* Lentil crop losses at $7 million to $14 million.

* Loss in weight gain of weaning calves at $2 million to $3 million.

* Feedlot cattle reduced gains at $2.5 million to $3 million.

* Sheep producers losses at $100,000.

* No significant reduction in potato crop yields.

* $20 million to $25 million increase in farm maintenance and re-pair costs.

* A $1 million to $2 million loss in milk, which many farmers were forced to dump because delivery trucks could not travel roads.

Dan Baginski, Othello farmer, said he has dumped 25,000 pounds and knows of one farmer who has already dumped $15,000 in milk.

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