2022 Louisiana Summary: Agriculture & Natural Resources

Kurt Guidry, Blanchard, Tobie M.

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This publication tabulates the value of Louisiana agriculture in 2022. 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 two biggest factors that influenced the 2022 production year for the Louisiana agricultural and forestry sectors were historic input prices and production costs along with excessive rainfall during critical harvest periods. Increased demand for inputs coupled with issues with transportation logistics and inflationary pressures helped push prices for most agricultural inputs sharply higher in 2022. While most input prices saw some level of increase in 2022, fuel and fertilizer prices likely had the biggest impact on overall profitability. Average prices for different fertilizers in 2022 increased from 33% to as high as 75% from the previous year. Likewise, diesel prices were sharply higher averaging more than 60% higher in 2022 versus 2021. With projections for historic input prices and production costs, much of the outlook for profitability for the agricultural sector was dependent on strong production levels in 2022. Coming off an unusually dry fall in 2021, early rains in 2022 helped to replenish soil moisture and created favorable conditions for planting and early crop development. However, for many areas of the state, a prolonged dry period from late spring into early summer created crop stresses and increased the need and demands for irrigation. Additional irrigation demand only helped to increase production costs that were already extremely high due to increased input costs. While the dry conditions that persisted did damper the productive outlook for many commodities, there was still some optimism for average yields. And for those commodities that were harvested earlier in the summer, yields were generally average to slightly below average. However, persistent and excessive rainfall began to hit most areas of the state in late July and early August and persisted through September, a critical harvest period for many of the state’s agricultural commodities. More than 18 inches of rainfall fell within a seven-to-10-day period in some areas of the state creating significant harvest delays and harvest inefficiencies. Even in those areas in which rainfall totals were much more manageable, the persistent rainfall and the number of consecutive rainy days were enough to complicate and delay harvest and create significant quality issues.

Given the weather-related challenges faced in 2022, yields for most of the major row crop commodities in the state were down as compared to the previous year. Drought conditions in late spring and early summer created stresses for many commodities resulting in lower yield potential. And while rain came later in the summer, they were too late to help improve the yield prospects for most commodities. For commodities like corn and grain sorghum, the rains were too late to help their yields, but, fortunately, came after much of their harvest had been completed. So, while they did not have the full impact of the harvest delays and harvest inefficiencies, they did have the impacts of the drought and saw yields that were 8% and 5% below the previous year, respectively. For hay production, drought conditions early limited hay production as did excessive rainfall during July and August. And while drying conditions at the end of September and for the remainder of the fall allowed producers to make additional cuttings, it still did not prevent lower production in 2022 with yields estimated to be down about 11% from the previous year. For other commodities like cotton, soybeans and sweet potatoes, the rains did little to improve yield prospects and, in fact, created significant harvest delays and issues. Cotton lint yields were down more than 13% in 2022 as heavy rainfall impacted cotton boll set and development. Sweet potato yields were estimated to be down about 7% with harvest delays and quality impacts caused by the excessive rainfall. However, that reduction only tells a portion of the story for sweet potatoes. The number of acres that were abandoned due to quality impacts were over two times higher in 2022 than in 2021. Also, lower pack out percentages were reported for sweet potatoes marketed in the fresh market as quality impacts reduced marketability. Soybeans had a similar story to sweet potatoes. Soybean yields were estimated to be down 9% from the previous year. However, abandoned acres were more than double in 2022 than the level in 2021 and significant quality impacts resulted in producers receiving heavy prices discounts when marketing what soybeans they were able to harvest. The only major row crop commodity that experienced increased yields in 2022 was sugarcane. The rains in July, August and September were believed to help boost sugarcane tonnage prospects from those that existed based on the previous drought conditions. And while that rainfall created some challenges for sugarcane planting, once they stopped in late September, dry conditions persisted for the remainder of the sugarcane harvest helping to boost harvest efficiencies and sugar recovery. A hard freeze in December 2022 did result in reduced sugar production for later harvested sugarcane, but the tremendous production prior to that helped offset any reduction caused by the freeze. The end result was sugar yields that were estimated at 8% higher than the previous year.

While the production year was a difficult one for many agricultural commodities, improving demand, tight supplies and inflationary pressures all helped to push prices sharply higher for most commodities. Demand prospects began to improve in 2022 as markets continued to rebound from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The stronger demand coupled with tight domestic and international supply conditions for many commodities helped to support higher prices. Finally, inflationary pressures began to push prices for all products higher. Prices for major row crop plant enterprises increased on average 26% in 2022 from 2021, ranging from a low of 12% (grain sorghum) to a high of 52% (hay). Prices for fruit enterprises were, on average, roughly 8% higher while prices for vegetable enterprise were about 7% higher, on average. Pecan prices were also higher in 2022 based on lower supplies and inflationary issues. It should be noted, however, that while prices were sharply higher for many commodities, these price improvements, in most cases, did not offset higher input prices and production costs. As such, while the total revenue generated by the agricultural industry was higher in 2022, it does not imply higher profitability.

Like plant enterprises, prices for much of the livestock sector were higher in 2022. Several enterprises saw significant year-over-year improvements in prices as strong demand coupled with tight supplies helped to support prices. The beef cattle sector was one that saw sharply higher prices. Prices in 2022 averaged roughly 14% higher across all classes of cattle marketed. The price improvement seen in 2022 was a continuation of improvements in prices as cattle inventory levels fell across the U.S. for a third consecutive year. Milk prices were also markedly higher in 2022, up by nearly 40% from the previous year. The poultry industry also saw sharply higher prices with broiler prices up by roughly 38% and edible egg prices up a whopping 200%. Supply issues with edible eggs created shortages throughout the country which resulted in historically high prices. Other poultry sectors (cull hens and breeder flocks) also experienced price increases in excess of 20%. Prices for swine were also higher in 2022, although at much lower levels. Prices were, on average, roughly 6% higher across all classes of swine marketed. For other livestock enterprises like horses and goats, along with some of the smaller enterprises (rabbits, quail, exotic animals), prices were generally flat in 2022. Sheep prices were the only livestock enterprise that experienced slightly lower prices in 2022 averaging about 10% lower across all classes of sheep.

Unlike the trend set by plant and livestock enterprises, prices for the fisheries and wildlife enterprises were much more mixed. Prices for most freshwater and marine fishery enterprises were higher in 2022 while many of the aquaculture enterprises were lower. Freshwater finfish, shrimp and crabs were all higher in 2022, all up more than 14% from the previous year. Oysters and soft-shelled crabs were also higher in 2022, up 5% and 17%, respectively. Other aquaculture enterprises were not as fortunate and saw lower prices. Crawfish prices were down roughly 7% in 2022 while catfish prices were down about 18%. In both instances, larger supplies are believed to have put some downward pressure on prices. Similarly, wild caught crawfish prices were also lower in 2022, down about 5% from the previous year. It should be remembered that the data for freshwater and marine fisheries represent the 2021 calendar. Given the data collection process used by the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the data always has a one-year lag. As such, the price increases shown in this report reflect the rebound in prices from the 2020 pandemic year to 2021. Finally, prices were stronger in 2022 for fur animals and wild caught alligators. Pelts were reported to be, on average, roughly 48% higher in 2022 than the previous year while wild caught alligator prices were up roughly 13%.

With the vast majority of the agricultural commodities in the state experiencing year-over-year increases in prices, the overall farm gate value of the state’s food and fiber sector increased by 19% over the previous year and is one of the highest levels ever recorded. For each of the three broad categories of enterprises (plant, livestock, and fisheries and wildlife), gross farm values increased in 2021. The total gross farm value for all plant enterprises was up over 17% from 2021 and was one of the largest on record. Despite yield reductions for most of the major row crop commodities, price improvements more than offset the declines and resulted in higher revenue levels. Total gross farm value for livestock enterprises was up roughly 27% from the previous year, almost entirely due to sharply higher prices. And while prices for fisheries and wildlife enterprises were much more mixed than the other categories, sharp increases for freshwater and marine fisheries prices, coupled with a rebound in catch levels, helped to push the cumulative gross farm value for this category up roughly 9% from the previous year.

When the commodities produced by agricultural producers are cleaned, processed and packaged at the next stages of the marketing channel, these value-added activities create additional economic activity over and above that defined by the gross farm value. In 2022, these value-added activities were estimated to have an additional economic impact of $6.2 billion. Taken together, the gross farm value and value-added activities were estimated to have a total economic impact of nearly $13.9 billion. This represents nearly a 21% increase from 2021 and is one of the highest levels ever recorded. Given the level of economic activity that the state’s agriculture, forestry, and fishery industries continue to generate each year, it is undeniable that they continue to be major contributors to the overall state’s economy. Cutting-edge research programs and extension education and outreach efforts of the LSU AgCenter remain critical to sustaining these economic benefits.

Many Louisiana communities depend on agriculture, forestry, fisheries and wildlife for local jobs and their economic well-being. However, 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 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.

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3/14/2024 9:29:17 PM
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