Johnny Morgan, Fletcher, Jr., Bobby H.
NEW ORLEANS –People involved in providing agricultural products to the New Orleans area joined in a leadership forum to discuss ways to improve the current system in New Orleans on Feb. 11.
The meeting was hosted by the Agribusiness Council of Louisiana, the LSU AgCenter and the Audubon Institute.
The meeting explored ways to improve the regional food system, including production, processing and distribution in the New Orleans area, said LSU AgCenter assistant director Bobby Fletcher.
Panel discussions and speakers covered topics ranging from agricultural leadership to technology in agriculture.
“We wanted to leave this meeting with working teams formed and ideas for best practices that can be measured as well as challenges that can be addressed,” Fletcher said. “In addition, the positive energy as well as networking by the 80-plus participants during the meeting will extend far beyond this forum.”
The forum focused on the characteristics of quality leadership in urban and niche agriculture, he said.
“Effective leadership is important, regardless of whether an individual is producing a product, processing and adding value to the product or distributing the locally sourced product to the end consumer,” Fletcher said.
LSU Vice President for Agriculture Bill Richardson said the meeting provided interaction within the community on the importance of urban agriculture.
“I think quite often agriculture is viewed as rural and animals and plants,” Richardson said. “What we’re trying to do here is let people know that there is a whole lot more to modern agriculture.”
Richardson said one of the goals was to get people more engaged, and he feels the partnership will grow in the future.
Dickie Brennan, owner of four New Orleans restaurants, said Louisiana farmers and fishers can provide many of the products his customers demand.
“I just feel like it’s my duty to serve local products because unlike areas that are landlocked with no fresh fish and no place to grow crops, we have both opportunities here,” Brennan said. “Anybody who’s producing a fresh, quality product, we’re interested in looking at it, and we do all we can to put it on our menus.”
Charlie Richard, president of the Agribusiness Council of Louisiana, said the meeting allowed people who are working in the industry to come to the table to discuss ways to address issues in their industry.
“We wanted to provide a table where mainly niche farmers and producers can identify ways they can come together and move down the road a lot quicker together than they can as individuals,” Richard said.
Speakers on the program included producers of specialty products who discussed challenges they experience in distribution and other issues.Johnny Morgan