Spring: The Promise of a New Crop
By Jim Simon
statesman Daniel Webster (1782-1852) once famously said, "When tillage begins,
other arts follow. The farmers therefore are the founders of human
That’s certainly eloquent and just as true now as it was in the 19th
century as it was in ancient times.
I imagine in days past agriculture
seemed to travel at a slower pace than it does now. Putting a spring planting
in the ground for a fall harvest still meant the field had to be prepared ahead
of time just as it does today. I suppose the 40-acre farm was about as large as
one family could handle. Every task was slowly accomplished by hand and mules
one day at a time. Everyone on the family farm had a role to play in the farm’s
profitably and the prosperity of the greater community surrounding the farm. It
took a lot more people to do a month’s work that one man and a tractor can do today
in a 12-hour period.
That’s why I say agricultural endeavors of the past only seemed to have
been unhurried. Farmers were just as busy then as they are today. Because of
their work, paths became roads, villages became towns and ideas became
technological and artistic achievements.
Agriculture is vital to Louisiana’s economy.
In 2012, agriculture’s contribution to our economy was more than $4.5 billion.
Louisiana has more than 28,000 farms and 2.9 million acres of farmland. The
average Louisiana farm is 281 acres. More than 24,800 farms are smaller than
500 acres, 1,323 farms are between 500-1000 acres, and 1,926 farms are
comprised of more than a thousand acres. In a state with a population of 4.6
million, only .6 percent of us are contributing to our basic food needs. (Source: USDA 2012 Census of Agriculture)
Incidentally, Louisiana’s sugarcane
industry contributed about $747 million of that number. Our 475 farmers
harvested 12.7 million tons on more than 380,000 acres which produced 1.5
million tons of raw sugar.
The next time you’re stuck behind a
slow-moving timber truck on a narrow north Louisiana road or complaining about the smell from a poultry farm or sugar
mill, remember the people who make sure the rest of us have enough to eat;
remember the people who grow the fiber that makes the clothes we wear on our
back. Remember the farmers, the founders of human civilization.
Mike Danna Remembered
As many of you Farm and Ranch readers
already know, Mike Danna, host of This
Week in Louisiana Agriculture (TWILA), passed away March 6. He was 54. Mike
came to agricultural journalism in 1985 from the Monroe News-Star-World to become editor of the Louisiana Farm Bureau News.
was passionate about telling the story of Louisiana agriculture and he and his
staff covered agricultural news from 15 countries on four continents and
broadcasted or reported farm news stories from 27 U.S. states. Under Mike’s
guidance, TWILA’s reach expanded past the local level to one that is now
watched each week by more than 400,000 viewers on 19 affiliate stations across
Louisiana. TWILA is also seen across the nation via satellite on RFD-TV, the
farm news network.
battled the cancer that would eventually take his life for three years with
courage and optimism. It was difficult but he lived his life as fully as ever
during his illness. He was elated to learn just days before his death that he
had been inducted into the LSU Manship School of Mass Communications Hall of
family would like to establish an LSU scholarship in his name. The American
Sugar Cane League has made a donation and I invite everyone to help establish
can be made online at www.lsufoundation.org or via check payable to LSU
Foundation, in memory of Mike Danna in the notation line and mailed to LSU
Foundation, 3838 West Lakeshore Drive, Baton Rouge, La. 70808 or to Cancer
Services of Greater Baton Rouge, www.cancerservices.org.
made a career of telling Louisiana’s agricultural story. He will be missed by
all of his friends in the sugarcane industry.
(The above article appeared in Louisiana Farm and Ranch, May 2015).