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This book tabulates the value of Louisiana agriculture in 2005. Agents and specialists of the Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service, as well as other agencies – both private and public – compiled the statistics. 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 hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Although the devastation and destruction caused by the two storms definitely have been a tremendous challenge to Louisiana producers, the full effect won’t be seen for some time.
For some commodities, damage to the crops themselves was minimal since harvesting was essentially over prior to the storms. The effects farmer’s suffered were increased costs of production and infrastructure damage. Future production, however, will suffer from the consequences of saltwater intrusion, animal losses and an infrastructure still under repair. The forestry industry will suffer for the next several years, because timber growth was damaged or destroyed.
Despite the disasters, farmers were able to produce agricultural commodities valued at nearly $4.7 billion. When those commodities were processed, the value added brought in more than $5.0 billion, for a total contribution of more than $9.7 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 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, 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.
As in any other industry heavily dependent on weather, agriculture has its good years and bad years. It will take years for many producers to fully recover (if they recover at all) from the devastation caused by the hurricanes. Even prior to the two storms, the 2005 growing season was a difficult one for many producers. Following spring rains that delayed planting, the majority of the state generally experienced drought-like conditions. Although the dry and hot growing conditions did make 2005 a comparatively light year for disease and insect pressure, increased irrigation needs resulted in soaring production costs. Despite the generally difficult growing season, most crops produced above-average yields. The exceptions were sugarcane and hay that produced below-normal yields because of a combination of depleted soil moisture and the effects of Katrina and Rita.
Commodity prices continue to be a serious concern as input costs go up and Farm Bill programs are debated 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 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, "2005 Louisiana Summary: Agriculture and Natural Resources" (2005). Louisiana Summary: Agriculture and Natural Resources. 15.