Festivals serve as reminders of St. Landry’s bountiful harvest
From St. Landry Economic Development
Harvest festivals blossoming across south Louisiana at this time of year are annual reminders that this is a place where we can grow practically anything, and do. Agribusiness is big business across the region and is an important segment of the St. Landry Parish economy.
Crops and animals produced in St. Landry had a value of nearly $150 million at the farm gate in 2018, and will likely have at least that value when 2019 totals are calculated. Dr. Kurt Guidry, director of the LSU AgCenter’s southwest region, says that value would likely double when agriculture’s effects throughout the local economy are considered.
He notes that a good crop year is good news for farmers, but also for banks, implement and truck dealers, appliance stores, grocers, and for everyone who deals with them.
In terms of acreage planted, St. Landry is one of the largest agricultural parishes in the state. County Agent Vincent Deshotel has pointed out that at any given time there are about 250,000 acres in cultivation in one crop or another in the parish.
Soybeans ($26.7 million), rice ($21.9 million), and sugarcane ($21.1 million) are the biggest money crops in the parish, according to figures compiled by the AgCenter, but we also grow $12 million in feed grains and hay to support a $13.2 million horse industry and an $8,5 million cattle industry.
Add to that a $20.7 million crawfish harvest and $7.3 million in vegetables grown in fields, greenhouses, and home gardens, and we have everything we need to fill our holiday tables with nothing but home-grown foods and eat like royalty — or entice visitors from around the world to come and share the dishes made from our bounty. The foods we grow and process here are one of the major attractions of a cultural tourism industry that is growing every year.
“Farming is big business here, and we have an impressive array of agri-business leaders and executives in St. Landry Parish,” according to Bill Rodier, director of economic development. More importantly, he says, “farming, food, and heritage are interlinked segments of our parish economy that are ripe for growth, both internally and through outside investment.”
Those segments were identified as having high potential in an internal study of the parish several years ago and more recently in a study by Atlanta-based Garner Economics. That study found that “availability of agricultural and aquaculture products for processing” is one of the strengths of the parish and south Louisiana as whole.
It also found that the parish is well positioned “to sustain and add value to a strong existing base of agribusiness activity” and that it is “centrally located for regional and national markets.”
We are already taking advantage of those opportunities, according to Rodier. “Products from St. Landry Parish can be found around the world,” he said. “We ship sauces and seasonings, sausage and boudin vegetable oil, and, of course, crawfish and farm products in big numbers.”