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This book gives an accounting of the value of agriculture in Louisiana in 2004. Agents and specialists of the Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service, as well as other agencies – both private and public – compile this information. It focuses on the animal, forestry, fisheries, plant and wildlife commodities that comprise our vital agricultural industry. This industry continues to contribute significantly to the state’s economy with the potential for increased impacts through value-added processing.
In 2004, Louisiana farmers, foresters, fishermen and ranchers produced agricultural commodities valued at slightly more than $5 billion. When those commodities were processed, the value-added brought in another $5.7 billion, for a total contribution of more than $10.7 billion. These values do not include authorized government payments.
Agriculture in Louisiana continues to be a major contributor to the state’s economy. Many communities depend on agriculture, forestry, fisheries and wildlife for their livelihood. The heart of agronomic agriculture is found in northeastern and southwestern 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 is more than a business to those who work in it day to day. It is truly a way of life. Families have lived on many of these farms for generations, and farming is a way of life they prefer even though it means hard work, many hours, high risks and sometimes low incomes.
As in any other industry heavily dependent on weather, agriculture has its good years and bad years. During the 2004 season, some commodity prices declined from record high prices and yields seen in 2003. Additionally, excessive rainfall in June followed by drought conditions later in the summer caused great concerns to many growers. Favorable growing conditions did, however, recover enough to allow for decent cotton and rice crops. Soybean, sugarcane and hay production, however, was affected negatively in many areas. Commodity prices continue to be a serious concern as input costs go up and Farm Bill programs are debated more and more by policymakers. Each year brings additional risks associated with commodity prices, trade agreements, higher input costs (fuel and fertilizer are at record high levels), 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 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 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, "2004 Louisiana Summary: Agriculture and Natural Resources" (2004). Louisiana Summary: Agriculture and Natural Resources. 16.