Thomas A. Merrill | 4/20/2006 1:20:48 AM
The overall value of Louisiana’s agricultural production was down by $1 billion last year, and officials warn the long-term effects of the 2005 hurricanes could mean even more decreases.
Estimates compiled by faculty of the LSU AgCenter peg the total value of Louisiana agriculture at $9.7 billion in 2005 – down from a five-year peak of $10.7 billion in 2004.
Despite the decrease, however, the 2005 total still was ahead of those posted for 2001 through 2003. But Dr. Paul Coreil, vice chancellor of the LSU AgCenter, warned the future may not be as bright.
"In 2005, Louisiana farmers, foresters, fishermen and ranchers faced unprecedented challenges associated with hurricanes Katrina and Rita," Coreil said. "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."
Coreil explained that while production of some crops suffered, damage to others was minimal because harvesting already was over prior to the 2005 storms.
"Future production, however, will suffer from the consequences of saltwater intrusion, animal losses and an infrastructure that’s still under repair," he said. "The forestry industry – the state’s largest agricultural enterprise – also will suffer for the next several years, because timber growth was damaged or destroyed."
For 2005, the gross farm income from plant, animal, fisheries and wildlife commodities produced in Louisiana totaled $4.69 billion. The economic value added through further processing, marketing and transportation of those commodities totaled $5.05 billion – bringing the estimate of Louisiana’s total economic value of agriculture to $9.74 billion last year.
"Agriculture is and will continue to be a major contributor to Louisiana’s economy, and the LSU AgCenter will continue to stress cutting-edge research and extension education and outreach efforts that are critical to that success," said Dr. Bill Richardson, chancellor of the LSU AgCenter.
"We understand that many people and many communities still depend on agriculture, forestry, fisheries and wildlife for their livelihoods," Richardson said, adding, "Louisiana agriculture creates local jobs and contributes to local economies across the state."
Of the state’s major agricultural enterprises, northeastern and southwestern Louisiana serves as the heart of agronomic agriculture – the production of crops ranging from cotton to rice. The hill parishes of northern and southeastern Louisiana serve as the major centers for forestry production, although income from such enterprises is reported across the state. Fisheries production is focused primarily on Louisiana coast, but aquacultural production of catfish, which also is part of that agricultural segment, is located mainly in the Louisiana Delta.
Forestry remains the largest agricultural enterprise in Louisiana. In 2005, the gross farm value from forestry was nearly $1.18 billion, and almost $3.38 billion was added by further processing of forest products – for a total economic contribution of more than $4.55 billion for forestry alone.
The forestry total ensured plant commodities were the leading segment of Louisiana agriculture with a total economic contribution of more than $6.54 billion, which was made up of total gross farm values of nearly $2.66 billion and value added of more than $3.88 billion.
Animal commodities followed with gross farm values of $1.57 billion and $854 million in value added for a total contribution to the economy of nearly $2.43 billion. Fisheries and wildlife commodities posted nearly $456 million in gross farm value and almost $315 million in value added for a total just under $771 million.
"Agriculture, forestry and fisheries are more than a business to those who work in them day to day. They are truly a way of life," Richardson said. "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."
The estimates concerning the on-farm value of various commodities and the value added to the economy by further handling of those commodities are included in the LSU AgCenter’s Louisiana Summary of Agriculture and Natural Resources 2005. That publication is prepared by LSU AgCenter faculty members and county agents across Louisiana who work with farmers, agricultural agency representatives, agribusiness leaders and others to compile data for each year’s unofficial state summary of agriculture and natural resources.
Among the other facts included in that summary:
–Despite falling from the 2004 level, the 2005 economic contribution of Louisiana agriculture was the second highest for the past five years. Total values were $8.86 billion in 2003, $7.51 billion in 2002 and $7.75 billion in 2001.
–Poultry led the state’s animal enterprises and was second only to forestry in its total economic contribution. Poultry production in the state, which focuses heavily on several North Louisiana parishes, posted gross farm value of almost $679 million and value added in excess of $651 million for a total of $1.33 billion.
–Horses and sugarcane followed in the third and fourth places based on overall economic contributions to the state. Horses posted nearly $485 million in total value for 2005, and sugarcane posted nearly $480 million.
–Other leading commodities, which contributed in excess of $400 million to the state’s economy last year, included cattle and calves and marine fisheries. But those weren’t alone. Milk, aquaculture, cotton, feed grains, nursery stock/ornamentals, sod production, soybeans and commercial vegetables all posted total economic contributions in the range from $100 million to $300 million.
More information on the estimated values of Louisiana agriculture can be found in the complete Louisiana Summary of Agriculture and Natural Resources for 2005 from the LSU AgCenter. That information is available at www.lsuagcenter.com/agsummary/.
A limited number of printed copies and CDs of the information also are available. Those can be ordered by phoning (225) 578-6598 or by visiting www.lsuagcenter.com/mcms/webtools/orderpublication.aspx and requesting a copy of Publication 2398.
Writer: Tom Merrill at (225) 578-2263 or firstname.lastname@example.org