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This publication tabulates the value of Louisiana agriculture in 2010. 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. Agricultural and natural resource industries contribute significantly to our state’s economy with the potential for increased economic benefits and job creation through value-added processing in urban and rural communities throughout Louisiana.
The 2010 production year was much improved over the previous two years for most in the state’s food and fiber sector. After struggling with hurricanes in 2008 and excessive rains in 2009, the 2010 production year and, more specifically, the 2010 harvest season were vastly improved. The production and harvest year were not, however, uneventful. After a fairly good planting season, weather conditions turned dry and remained dry across the state for much of the growing season. Dry conditions and hot temperatures affected yields of crops harvested early and had an effect on forage availability and hay production in the livestock sector. Late-season rains provided some relief for later-harvested crops, and the nearly ideal conditions that were experienced helped many producers harvest quickly and efficiently.
Improved growing and harvest conditions resulted in increased year-to-year production levels for many row crops. Virtually ideal harvest conditions helped bring yields for commodities such as cotton, sweet potatoes and soybeans back to and above trend-line levels. In addition, improving domestic and international economies created significant optimism for demand prospects over the last half of 2010 and resulted in sharply higher commodity prices for most row crop and livestock commodities. The increases of commodity prices to record or near-record levels certainly helped to improve the profitability outlook for producers heading into the end of the year and helped to offset rising fuel and fertilizer prices experienced at the end of 2010.
While relatively dry conditions during the winter of 2010-2011 have created some issues for livestock producers with winter forage production and have increased the need for ample rains during the spring of 2011 to replenish soil moisture, the general condition of the food and fiber sector is much improved when compared to the previous year. Stronger commodity prices have generally created a very optimistic outlook for the sector, despite rising input costs.
Although Louisiana’s agriculture and natural resource industries certainly encountered many challenges in 2010, the state’s producers were able to generate farm-gate sales totaling $5.5 billion during the year. When those commodities were cleaned, processed and packaged, the value added brought in another $4.4 billion, for a total contribution to our state’s economy of $9.9 billion. While farm-gate values and levels for value added for specific commodities may vary from year to year because of changes in output caused by weather problems, lower or higher commodity prices or significant changes in acreages, the food and fiber sector continues to be vital to the state’s economy. Cutting-edge research programs and extension education and outreach efforts remain critical to sustaining these significant economic benefits.
Many Louisiana communities depend on agriculture, forestry, fisheries and wildlife for local jobs and their economic well-being. The heart of agronomic agriculture is found in northeastern, southwestern and south central Louisiana. Forestry production occurs mostly in the state’s hill parishes, and fisheries production takes place mostly along the coast, although the aquacultural production of catfish is located mainly in the northeast Louisiana delta area.
For those who work in it day in and day out, agriculture, forestry and fisheries are far more than a business, a major job contributor and an economic engine. It truly is a way of life. Families have lived on many of these farms, forest lands or fishing villages for generations following a preferred way of life even though it means hard work, many 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 AgCenter (with its major branches of 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, "2010 Louisiana Summary: Agriculture and Natural Resources" (2010). Louisiana Summary: Agriculture and Natural Resources. 10.