(03/05/21) BATON ROUGE, La. — The Louisiana Agriculture Hall of Distinction inducted three new members during a ceremony March 4 at the L’Auberge Hotel in Baton Rouge.
The new inductees are former Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation President Ronnie Anderson, of Ethel; sugarcane farmer John Gay, of Plaquemine; and Paul “Jackie” Loewer, of Branch, a rice farmer who has been a strong advocate for the rice industry in state and national organizations.
Anderson has the longest serving tenure as president of Farm Bureau. When he was elected president in 1989, he didn’t realize just how challenging the job was.
“The demands that are put on the whole organization, but especially the president, are overwhelming,” Anderson said.
During his time as president, the organization doubled its membership, going from just more than 60,000 family memberships to nearly 150,000.
Anderson started his agricultural career as a dairy farmer and transitioned to beef cattle. He has a herd of about 400 cattle, and he raises horses, hay and timber in both East Feliciana and West Feliciana parishes. He viewed his induction as one of the highlights of his career.
“If you look at the people that have been inducted before, it’s a real honor to be part of that group,” Anderson said. “And I’m proud of that accomplishment.”
For more than 200 years, descendants of the Gay family have been producing sugarcane just south of Plaquemine in Iberville Parish. Twice the Gay family farm, St. Louis Planting, Inc., exceeded sugar recovery of more than 11,000 pounds per acre, a number that seemed unreachable.
“They were handing out certificates and rankings, and in the larger farm category, the farmer won with 5,800 pounds of sugar per acre,” Gay said. “We’ve just about doubled that now. And once again, it’s all these efforts on the parts of all those people that made it happen.”
As a seventh-generation farmer, family has played a big role. Five generations of the Gay family have held the presidency of the American Sugar Cane League and its predecessor, the American Sugar Exchange. The Gay family expects to continue to grow sugarcane for future generations.
“I’ve got a family that has been very supportive of me:Karen, my wife, and my four daughters,” he said. “Sara married Patrick Frischertz, and Patrick, an attorney, came to work with us here. I see a bright future.”
Loewer is known for producing high-yielding rice crops and for his many leadership roles in promoting rice production in Louisiana and the United States. After graduating from Bethel College in Kansas, he knew he would be a farmer.
“To me, that was what I wanted to do, and I never regretted it actually,” Loewer said. “Never said, ‘I should have been a banker. I should have been an attorney.’
Loewer served 26 years on the Louisiana Rice Research Board, including 12 as chairman. During his time as chairman, rice variety development had some significant breakthroughs. He is also one of a few Louisianians to be named chairman of the USA Rice Federation.
“I wanted to be at the table,” Loewer said. “They always say the best way to make sure you’re at a meeting is to be the one to call the meeting. And not that I had to call every meeting, but to be involved. We know the world is run by people that show up. I wanted to show up.”
A joint effort of the LSU AgCenter, Louisiana Radio Network, Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation and Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, the Louisiana Agriculture Hall of Distinction honors individuals who have made significant contributions to agriculture or agriculture-related industries.
Previous inductees have represented farming, ranching, forestry, aquaculture, education and agribusiness.
Ronnie Anderson, Louisiana Farm Bureau president for 31 years, was inducted into the Louisiana Agriculture Hall of Distinction on March 4 at the L’Auberge Hotel in Baton Rouge. Anderson began his agricultural career as a dairy farmer, then moved to beef cattle and also raises horses, hay and timber on land in East and West Feliciana parishes.
John Gay was inducted into the Louisiana Agriculture Hall of Distinction on March 4 at the L”auberge Hotel in Baton Rouge. Gay’s family sugarcane farm, the St. Louis Planting Inc., is comprised of more than 4,500 acres near Plaquemine in Iberville Parish. The Gay family has been leaders in the state’s sugarcane industry for seven generations.
Paul “Jackie” Loewer has played a significant leadership role in the state’s rice industry. For his efforts, he was inducted into the Louisiana Agriculture Hall of Distinction on March 4 at the L’Auberge Hotel in Baton Rouge. Besides being a successful rice farmer, Loewer has held numerous leadership positions at the state and national level, including chairman positions on both the Louisiana Rice Research Board and the USA Rice Federation.