Business News

La. ag industry reports record-breaking year in 2014

by The Associated Press

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — For the third year in a row, Louisiana farmers had record-breaking values for many of their commodities.

LSU officials say Louisiana agriculture contributed $12.7 billion to the state's economy in 2014, a gain of 7.6 percent, or $900 million, over 2013.

Agricultural Center economist John Westra says records also show agriculture's contributions to the state's economy have grown for five consecutive years — from $9.9 billion in 2010 through last year's record-breaking total.

The 2014 Ag Summary from the LSU AgCenter, released Monday, is a compilation of the numbers for more than 200 agricultural commodities grown across Louisiana.

The largest contributors to the 2014 increase were forestry, beef and soybeans.

Forestry in Louisiana showed a significant increase in value of 34 percent over 2013, Westra said.

"The forest sector did very well," he said. The total value of $3.86 billion in 2014 was an increase of $981 million over the previous year.

Market demand, led by housing starts, contributed to the increase in forest product values, he said.

Another agricultural sector that showed improvement last year was the cattle and calf business, which grew by $231 million to $895 million in 2014 — an increase of 35 percent.

"Soybeans also did well," Westra said. Value increased by $252 million, or 28 percent, to $1.16 billion in 2014.

Strong prices and record yields, combined with a production increase from 1.1 million acres to 1.4 million acres, contributed to that uptick, he said.

Production of feed grains — corn, oats and grain sorghum — was down significantly, and value fell by 57 percent to $396 million from $930 million in 2013.

Growers planted more cotton — 162,000 acres, up 40,000 acres. Production value was up about 7 percent, he said.

Louisiana sweet potatoes gained value as a function of processed products. Frozen sweet potato products have replaced canneries as a major market in Louisiana.

Sugar cane value slipped about 3 percent, or $24 million, to $747 million total, Westra said. Acreage was down about 5 percent, from 439,000 acres to 412,000 acres.