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This publication tabulates the value of Louisiana agriculture in 2009. Agents and specialists of the LSU AgCenter’s Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service, as well as those in other agencies – both private and public – compiled the data. Their analysis focuses on the animal, forestry, fisheries, plant and wildlife commodities that comprise our vital agricultural industry. The agricultural industry continues to contribute significantly to the state’s economy and has the potential for increased benefits through value-added processing.
The 2009 production year was another challenging one for many in the state’s food and fiber sector. As a consequence of the downturn in both the domestic and international economies, there was much less optimism regarding agricultural revenue heading into 2009. For many agricultural producers, a consequence of hurricanes Gustav and Ike was a significant need for improved production and profitability in 2009. Although lower input costs, led by reductions in fuel and fertilizer prices, helped create a more positive financial foundation for producers, this was quickly overshadowed by lower commodity prices and a production year that proved to be one of extremes. Early season drought conditions were followed by heavy and persistent rains for much of September and October, creating significant harvest delays and resulting in both quantity and quality reductions for many of the state’s row crop and forage producers.
While agricultural products often are considered less susceptible to downturns in the economy than other consumer goods, the prolonged nature of the current recession had dampened consumer confidence and decreased demand throughout the state’s food and fiber sector. For most commodities, lower prices certainly were an expression of lower demand and reduced speculative investment in agricultural commodity markets. Lower home starts created difficulties for the state’s forestry sector, with mills either curtailing or ceasing operations. Lower demand also was one of the factors leading to the closing of a major poultry processing facility in the state. Although that plant has been purchased and reopened, it currently is operating at significantly reduced capacities. This had implications for the livestock sector in 2009 and will likely continue to affect that sector into the future, at least until the facility returns to full capacity.
The adverse weather conditions that hampered the agricultural sector at the end of the 2009 production year unfortunately persisted into early 2010. A significantly colder- and wetter-than-normal winter limited producer’s ability to repair fields affected by harvesting under less-than-ideal conditions. If these weather patterns continue to persist through the spring, such conditions could have a substantial impact on crop acreage and production in 2010 – particularly if producers are forced to shift acres from commodity to commodity due to their inability to get certain crops planted in a timely fashion.
While the agricultural sector certainly encountered many challenges in 2009, it was able to generate farm gate sales totaling $4.9 billion. When those commodities were cleaned, processed and packaged, the value added brought in nearly $3.4 billion. That meant a total contribution to our state’s economy of nearly $8.3 billion.
While farm-gate values and levels for value added for specific commodities may have changed noticeably from the previous year, due to lower output caused by late-season weather problems, lower commodity prices or significant changes in acreages, the food and fiber sector continues to be vital to the state’s economy. Cutting-edge research and extension education and outreach efforts remain critical to sustaining these significant economic benefits.
Many communities depend on agriculture, forestry, fisheries and wildlife for local jobs and economic well-being. The heart of agronomic agriculture is found in northeastern, southwestern, and south central Louisiana. Forestry production is mostly in the hill parishes, and fisheries production takes place mostly along the coast, although the aquaculture production of catfish is located mainly in the northeast Louisiana delta.
Agriculture, forestry and fisheries are more than a business and major job contributor to those who work the industries day in and day out. It truly is a way of life. Families have lived on many of these farms or forest lands or in these fishing villages for generations – following a preferred way of life even though it means hard work, long hours, high risks and sometimes low incomes.
Each new production season has risks associated with commodity prices, trade agreements and higher input costs, as well as uncertainty related to the weather. These conditions make the discovery and adoption of new agricultural technology developed by the LSU AgCenter more important than ever to our state’s producers.
Agriculture is a highly sophisticated segment of the national and world economy; becoming increasingly more so every year. That is the reason we at the LSU AgCenter continue to support agriculture and consumers with factual information provided by a well-trained faculty of extension agents, specialists and research scientists.
Those of us in the LSU Agricultural Center (the Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service and the Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station) are proud to be part of Louisiana’s agricultural industry, and we are committed to serving that industry and the citizens across the state of Louisiana in the years ahead.
LSU AgCenter, "2009 Louisiana Summary: Agriculture and Natural Resources" (2009). Louisiana Summary: Agriculture and Natural Resources. 11.