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This book tabulates the value of Louisiana agriculture in 2006. 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.
In 2005, Louisiana farmers, foresters, fishermen and ranchers faced unprecedented challenges associated with the devastation and destruction caused by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Louisiana producers continue to adjust production and respond to the challenges, although the full effect of these hurricanes will not be seen for some time.
Fortunately, some commodities were spared from extensive damage since their growing and harvesting seasons were generally complete by the time the as the storms hit the state. For others, however, production difficulties, starting at the time of the storms, continued through 2006 because of saltwater intrusion, animal losses and an infrastructure still under repair. The forestry industry continues to feel the effects of the storms because of the vast amount of timber that was damaged or destroyed.
As in any other industry heavily dependent on weather, agriculture has its good years and bad years. The promise of a new year is also the promise of an improved production environment. With the both the immediate and long-term difficulties caused by the storms of 2005, the 2006 growing season certainly brought the hope for improved production and marketing environments for the Louisiana agriculture industries. Unfortunately, the 2006 growing season proved to be a challenging one for many producers. Following spring rains that delayed planting, the majority of the state experienced drought-like conditions. Although the dry and hot growing conditions did make 2006 a comparatively light year for disease and insect pressure, increased irrigation needs resulted in soaring production costs. Adding to the difficulty of the 2006 season was rainfall that ranged from 10 to more than 20 inches during the fall which reduced production, increased quality damage and increased harvesting costs for many of our commodities.
Despite the continued effects of the 2005 storms and the challenges faced in 2006, agricultural production for many of the state’s commodities was at or above five-year averages. With slightly higher prices for many of the commodities grown, farmers were able to produce agricultural commodities valued at nearly $5.0 billion. When those commodities were processed, the value-added brought in nearly $5.4 billion, for a total contribution of more than $10.4 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 southern 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 northeastern 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, forest lands 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 bio-fuel 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 the 2007 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 weatherrelated 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 so each year. That is the reason the LSU AgCenter 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 AgCenter (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, "2006 Louisiana Summary: Agriculture and Natural Resources" (2006). Louisiana Summary: Agriculture and Natural Resources. 14.