The speaker at the Rotary Club meeting on Tuesday, presented by Rotarian Peter Strawitz, was Richard Fontenot, with the Louisiana Farm Bureau. Agriculture is a key industry in the state of Louisiana. The industry is very dynamic. In 2022, the state experienced a drought until August, and then there was about 60 days in a row when it rained. That year resulted in the most expensive harvest that Louisiana has ever experienced. The production was still strong, but some of the quality of the crop was lost.
Rice and Crawfish generate about $73 million in value per year in Evangeline Parish. Crawfish used to be shipped from Gulfport to Texas. Now shipments go from Birmingham to Los Angeles and San Francisco. This year, however, was a disappointing crawfish year. The producers was getting the production, but not getting the return. This was the first year that buyers shut down purchasing. There were many contributing factors, including supply chain issues, workers and inflation. The rice production should be a little above breakeven.
The LSU Ag Center is an Integral part of Louisiana Agriculture. One of the questions asked was about the continuation of the industry and bringing in new generations of agricultural workers. The Farm Bureau is working with the Ag Center, Educators and agencies to improve the programs available to young people. They are needed in every facet of the industry.
Mr. Fontenot was also asked about solar farms being introduced to the area. The Farm Bureau is a strong proponent of personal property rights, and people should be able to make the decisions on what is best for their families. However, they do change the landscape and the possibility for future production. The Farm Bureau will continue to work to keep the agriculture industry in Louisiana strong and vibrant.
Other Rotary announcements
• If anyone is interested in becoming a Paul Harris Fellow, please let Annette or another Board Member know so that they can help with that.
• The Evening Installation will be held on June 20th. There will be no lunch meeting that day.
• A potential new member was introduced for the first time – Linda Sue Fontenot. She is being sponsored by Nicole Wenger.
• Next week's program will be presented by Dr. Kirk Soileau, and the speaker will be Dr. Shawn Wilson, Secretary of the Louisiana DOTD.