French Learning About Cotton From Louisiana

Robert L. Hutchinson, Guidry, Kurt M., Paxton, Kenneth W.  |  4/26/2005 8:28:31 PM

LSU AgCenter agronomist Dr. Don Boquet talks about cotton grown at the AgCenter's Scott Research, Extension and Education Center near Winnsboro during the taping of a documentary on cotton by a film crew from Paris, France. The one-hour documentary is expected to be shown to thousands of people in France later this year. Dr. Wink Alison, background, was among several other AgCenter faculty members who assisted with the documentary about cotton production.

News Release Distributed 10/14/04

The French will be learning about cotton later this year – with a little help from the LSU AgCenter.

LSU AgCenter researchers and extension agents from Northeast Louisiana will be featured in a documentary on cotton set to appear later this year in France.

A film crew from Paris, France, came to the LSU AgCenter’s Scott Research, Extension and Education Center near Winnsboro earlier this month (Oct. 4-8) to begin its trek through Northeast Louisiana cotton fields in a quest to film a documentary on cotton. Film producer Jean Michel Rodrigo said documentaries are very popular in his country.

"We don’t grow any cotton," Rodrigo said. "So the people of France aren’t aware of how it is grown – the work involved in growing cotton from a seed and then making it into a shirt or some other piece of clothing.

"I had come to Louisiana a few years ago and had seen the cotton fields. I thought it would be a good idea to come back and film a documentary on the cotton industry here and share this knowledge with the people from my homeland."

Learning about how cotton grows will be something new for people living in France. Dr. Kurt Guidry of the LSU AgCenter’s Agricultural Economics Department said that according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Production, Supply and Demand database, France has not produced cotton in the past 40 years.

"While France may, in fact, have some low levels of production, it appears those levels are so insignificant that the USDA does not routinely estimate them," Guidry said. "The latest World Cotton Markets and Trade report from the Foreign Agricultural Service shows that in all the countries in Europe – with the exception of Greece and Spain – cotton acres were just 17,000 hectares in 2003 and 2004. That was less than 1 percent of the total world cotton acreage."

Dr. Ken Paxton, also of the LSU AgCenter’s Agricultural Economics Department, said that in the past two years, France imported 225,000 to 250,000 bales of cotton.

"Louisiana has been producing about 800,000 bales of cotton (per year)," Paxton said. "And if we assume the national average for exporting of about 60 percent, then 480,000 bales would be exported. However, little, if any, goes to France. In the past two years, the U.S. exported 1,000 to 2,000 bales to France, accounting for less than 0.5 percent of the U.S. market share."

With so little raw cotton going to France, Rodrigo said the people in his country will be "fascinated" by seeing how the cotton industry works in Louisiana.

"This (documentary) will be viewed by thousands of people," he said. "They will be very interested to see how (cotton is grown) in the United States."

Rodrigo came to Louisiana with two other crew members, Marina Paugam, camera specialist, and Philippe Drouat, sound specialist. They are from Mécanos Productions, headquartered in Paris.

In addition to visiting the LSU AgCenter’s Scott Center, the film crew also visited the LSU AgCenter’s Northeast Research Station near St. Joseph, the Panola Corp.’s cotton fields near St. Joseph, the Cotton Warehouse in Winnsboro, the USDA Cotton Classing Office in Rayville and the Louisiana Cotton Museum in Lake. Other stops on their tour of the state included representatives of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and others in South Louisiana – to show the statewide span of cotton.

Among those interviewed were LSU AgCenter clientele and faculty members, according to Dr. Robert "Bob" Hutchinson, Northeast Region director for the AgCenter, who said the film is "a great collaborative effort" that will get Louisiana noticed worldwide.

"It’s great that we can share this with people who might not otherwise get this information," Hutchinson said. "It is an honor to share the LSU AgCenter’s research and extension information with others across the globe."

The documentary will be one hour long and will air on one of France’s largest television stations.


Bob Hutchinson at (318) 766-3769 or
Kurt Guidry at (225) 578-4567 or kmguidry@agcenter.lsu
Ken Paxton at (225) 578-2763 or
A. Denise Coolman at (318) 644-5865 or 

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