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This book tabulates the value of Louisiana agriculture in 2007. Agents and specialists of the Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service, as well as 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 with the potential for increased benefits through value-added processing.
Two years ago, in the fall of 2005, Louisiana farmers, foresters, fishermen and ranchers faced unprecedented challenges associated with the devastation and destruction caused by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Although the financial implications of these storms have continued and likely will continue to be felt, Louisiana producers continue to adjust production and respond to the challenges.
Fortunately, some commodities were spared from extensive damage as their growing and harvesting seasons were generally complete by the time the as the storms hit the state. While other commodities have seen production levels rebound, financial consequences of the storms persist. With hurricane-related production difficulties in 2006 and with sharply higher input costs, many producers have found it increasingly difficult to recoup fully from the negative financial effects of the storms. Other commodities, such as forestry, likely will continue to experience long term effects of the storms given the extended production time for that commodity.
Heading into the 2007 growing season, another storm, of sorts, created a great deal of change in the agricultural industry. With the growing interest and focus of biofuel production, the Louisiana agricultural sector experienced unprecedented change in 2007. Historically high feed grain prices created much interest in corn, grain sorghum and wheat production among Louisiana producers. This increased interest resulted in substantial shifts in land use away from historically grown commodities such as cotton and rice into feed grains that had historically been relatively minor crops in the state. These unprecedented shifts in acreage created some difficulties in the state’s storage and transportation infrastructure as record levels of feed grains had to be moved through the marketing channel. The shift away from traditional commodities like cotton has raised concerns about the longterm viability of the infrastructure that has been built over the years to service that industry.
Along with the drastic acreage shifts, the other major issue facing agriculture in 2007 was the tremendous increase in energy costs. Double-digit percentage increases in fuel and fertilizer prices along with normal inflationary increases in other inputs made 2007 one of the most expensive years many producers had faced. Fortunately, prices for most commodities were well-above their five-year averages, and production levels for most agronomic crops were at or above record levels. Favorable weather conditions existed for most of the growing season with only high temperatures and low moisture conditions in late season causing some quality effects on later harvested commodities.
Despite the sharply higher production costs, Louisiana agriculture experienced a generally favorable year with higher commodity prices and near-record yields. For many commodities, 2007 brought improvements in farm profitability as price increases more than offset increased production costs, while for other commodities, small price increases were greatly overshadowed by increased production costs leaving only marginal improvements in farm profitability.
With more acreage devoted to feed grain production, however, Louisiana agriculture was able to produce commodities valued at nearly $5.7 billion. When those commodities were processed, the value-added brought in nearly $5.2 billion, for a total contribution of more than $10.9 billion. These values do not include authorized government payments.
Agriculture continues to be a major contributor to the state’s economy, and continued cutting-edge research and extension education and outreach will be critical to sustaining these significant economic benefits.
Many communities depend on agriculture, forestry, fisheries and wildlife for their livelihood and for local jobs. The heart of agronomic agriculture is found in northeastern, southwestern and south central Louisiana. Forestry production is mostly in the hill parishes, and the 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 to those who work in it day to day. It truly is a way of life. Families have lived on many of these farms, forestlands or in fishing villages for generations following a preferred way of life even though it means hard work, many hours, high risks and sometimes low incomes.
With the expansion of the biofuel industry, commodity prices have improved for many of our commodities. With input costs continuing to be at historical levels, however, prices received by producers will continue to be a serious concern as will Farm Bill programs that are being debated by policymakers. Each year brings additional risks associated with commodity prices, trade agreements, higher input costs, as well as potential weather-related disasters. This makes the discovery and adoption of new agricultural technology developed by the LSU AgCenter more important than ever.
Agriculture produces the food and fiber commodities that are essential elements for life. Without the high productivity of agriculture, many people would not have adequate food, clothing and lumber products needed to sustain their lives. Even with modern technology, many do not receive enough food to maintain their existence.
Agriculture is a highly sophisticated segment of the national and world economy and becomes increasingly more so each year. That is the reason the LSU Agricultural Center must continue to support agriculture and consumers with factual information provided by a well-trained faculty of extension agents, specialists and campus/station-based research scientists.
Those of us in the LSU Agricultural Center (Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service and the Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station) are proud to be part of Louisiana’s agricultural industry, and we look forward to continuing to serve that industry and the citizens across the state of Louisiana for years to come.
LSU AgCenter, "2007 Louisiana Summary: Agriculture and Natural Resources" (2007). Louisiana Summary: Agriculture and Natural Resources. 13.