Sugarcane farmers discuss concerns with state officials

Posted at 6:05 PM, Jul 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-19 19:05:14-04

Governor John Bel Edwards and Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain are continuing their statewide listening tour to find out what concerns farmers have. 

Thursday, they heard from sugarcane farmers in Plaquemine who are optimistic despite regulatory challenges.

In 2017, the sugarcane industry generated more than one billion dollars and 1.8 million tons of sugar. This is the largest crop in the history of Louisiana. 

Strain said, "600,000 truck loads of sugar! Think about that. It is the foundation of our economy that’s agriculture." 

While the state is happy with the figure, officials hope to see it grow even more this year.  

"The sugar cane farmers know what they’re doing, but the reason they are so good is because of that research that comes out of the LSU AG Center with the support of the sugar cane farmers themselves," said Governor Edwards.

Though the sugarcane industry has thrived, farmers still have some concerns. 

Al Landry has farmed for more than three decades. Like other farmers, he says immigration is one of the biggest issues facing them. "Our success in what we do and how we do it depends on hardworking labor," said Landry. "Without those guys, it would be tough in today’s world to survive."   

Farmers also want to know about capping insurance rates, transportation regulations and trade tariffs. Last week, Governor Edwards wrote a letter to President Trump asking him to bring trade negotiations to an end.

"I want to remain optimistic that these negotiations are going to be brought to a conclusion before there is long term harm and that harm gets to a level that is unacceptable to the farmers, the ports and the industrial expansion here in Louisiana," Edwards said.

Louisiana lawmakers are also calling on Congress to do its part to protect area farmers. 
"The sugar program has to stay in the farm bill," said Strain. "That’s absolutely critical. We need to make sure our crop insurance stays funded."