Ted Broussard: A Farmer's Farmer
To suggest that St. Mary Parish sugarcane farmer Ted Broussard enjoys farm management is an understatement.
is, in fact, driven by a deep desire to continually test his knowledge,
his skills and his equipment to be the best possible farmer he can be.
journey to the cane field is a bit different from most. His family has
been farming for only three generations and came into it when one could
get into farming with a small investment. In fact, if ice boxes hadn’t
become obsolete, he might have been in the ice business.
grandfather, Jackson Broussard, was the ice man in New Iberia,” Ted
said. "When he saw that Iceboxes were coming to an end, he moved to the
country and bought 40 acres and started farming in the early 1950s.”
it was relatively easy for the Jackson Broussard family to get into
farming, it was a considerable task for the fledgling farming family to
stay in business.
"My grandfather died a few years into the
farm,” Ted said. "I never knew him but my Granny, Olampe, she kept
Square B Farms going and made sure my daddy and his older brother did
what needed to be done in the fields.”
at age 53, Ted is about to purchase the assets of Square B Farms and
bring it under the management of his Ted Broussard Farms banner. Next
year, with the 1,900 acre acquisition of the Broussard "family farm,”
Ted will be responsible for managing more than 5,700 acres of prime
Teche Valley land.
Ted is not worried that he might have bitten off more than he can chew. He has a plan.
thing I want to do is make sure that there’s enough land for each of my
partners if they want to go off on their own or stick together after
I’m out of the picture,” Ted said. "There wasn’t enough land at the
Square B for me and I saw the writing on the wall and I left New Iberia
to come out here.”
"Here” is the old Lacy and Campdown
plantations nestled along Verdunville Road and in between the east bank
of Bayou Teche and the Atchafalaya Basin levee at Charenton.
partners are his 38-year-old nephew, John and Quaid, his 25-year-old
son. They’re capable farmers but a 5,700-acre farm sounds like, well, a
"We push the limits, that’s for sure,” Ted said. "In order
for me to be maxed out each combine have to push 50,000 tons. That’s not
the norm, but I don’t really know what the norm is. If I had to say,
it’s probably in the low 40s. But we keep a combine three seasons, and
then we trade them in so we’re not spending a day fixing a broken
machine. It’s just a different farming philosophy – one’s not better
than the other – it’s just different.”
Effectively cultivating a
5,700-acre farm will require efficiency, but that’s no problem for Ted –
he’s all about building efficiencies upon efficiencies.
combines are equipped with Louviere kickers, a combine custom add-on
that maximizes tonnage, plus his fields have all been laser leveled.
came up with the Young Farmers program through Farm Bureau and I’ve met
farmers from all over the state,” Ted said. "I saw the efficiencies
from my friends in north Louisiana and the Delta on their big tracts of
land. Everything was just precision. I thought if our fields were like
that we could be so much more productive.”
Ted and his family
members at the Square B began the process of sloping their fields for
maximum efficiency more than 23 years ago. When he left Square B to
start out on his own, he was the first to laser level in St. Mary
"Laser leveling brings you into another level,” Ted said.
"You get done so much more in a day. There are fewer drains, less
erosion, less ditch digging. When I said I traded my combines every
three years, to do that I need to stay around the 40 ton level. You have
to have laser leveled fields to do that. If you don’t have it, I don’t
care how good a farmer you are, you just can’t do it.”
in the process of converting his six-foot cane rows to eight-foot double
drill rows to increase productivity and efficiency.
preliminary tests have confirmed a productivity increase,” Ted said.
"We’re not sure how big it will consistently be but it will be
addition to being an effective farmer Ted claims he’s a "rich” farmer.
He’s not talking about how much money he has in the bank – he talking
about the things that really count -- family, experience, his ability to
appreciate his life and the challenges that come with being a son,
brother, husband, father, mentor and Louisiana sugarcane farmer. He
credits his success to the support of his family. Walteen, his wife, is
one of his advisors when he has to make big decisions. His daughter Jena
is another source of inspiration along with his farming son, Quaid.
tell me not to tell everyone that I’m a rich farmer,” Ted said. "But I
am. Farming has been good to me but it’s also given me a life that I
wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.”
by Sam Irwin
Sugar: Essential Ingredient for Successful Holiday Baking
holiday season is right around the corner, which means it's the perfect
time to remind our readers that no matter which recipe you use, whether
you pull it from your favorite cookbook, grandma's recipe box, or even
your local newspaper, chances are natural sugar will be the sweetener of
choice, just as it has been for centuries.
We all know the
important role sugar plays as a sweetener and flavor enhancer, but sugar
(and the amount called for in standard baked goods) also plays a
critical role in the science of baking.
Ever wondered, for
example, about the secret behind that golden brown, flavorful and
slightly crisp surface of breads, cakes, and cookies that not only
tastes great, but also helps retain moisture in the product?
answer is sugar. Sugar caramelizes when heated above its melting point,
sealing in flavor and leading to surface browning, which improves
moisture retention in baked products.
At oven temperatures, sugar
also interacts with proteins in the baking product. The myriad of
changes – known technically as "Maillard reactions" – are the second way
in which bread crusts, cakes and cookies get their familiar tastes and
Sugar also plays an integral role in helping promote
lightness in cakes and cookies by incorporating air into the shortening.
Air is trapped on the face of sugar's irregular crystals. When sugar is
mixed with shortening, this air becomes incorporated as very small air
cells. During baking, these air cells expand when filled with carbon
dioxide and other gases from the leavening agent.
foam-type cakes, sugar interacts with egg proteins to stabilize the
whipped foam structure. In doing so, sugar makes the egg foam more
elastic so that air cells can expand.
In unshortened cakes,
on the other hand, sugar molecules disperse among egg proteins and delay
coagulation of the egg proteins during baking. As the temperature
rises, egg proteins coagulate, or form bonds among each other. The sugar
molecules raise the temperature at which bonds form between these egg
proteins by surrounding the egg proteins and interfering with bond
formations. Once the egg proteins coagulate, the cake "sets," forming
the solid mesh-like structure of the cake.
Last but certainly
not least, sugar also helps prevent cracking of some cookies. As sugar
crystallizes, it gives off heat that evaporates the water it absorbed
during mixing and baking. At the same time, leavening gases expand and
cause cracking of the dry surface.
These are just a few
examples of the many ways all natural sugar works in batters and doughs
and how it works together with other ingredients in some popular holiday
recipes to create the wonderful baked goods we all love this time of
year. For more information on sugar's role in bakery foods, download our
handbook on sugar’s role in food preparation.
When it comes to holiday baking, there is no product as versatile and essential as all natural sugar.
Happy Holiday Baking!
Joe’s Favorite Cup Custard
1 cup sugar
½ cup boiling water
2 cups scalded milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
¾ cup sugar
⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
caramel syrup by heating 1 cup sugar in heavy iron skillet. When it
turns a rich, golden color, add ½ cup boiling water. Stir until all
sugar is dissolved. Allow to cool. Put 1 teaspoon of syrup into each
Mix all other ingredients in blender, divide
among 8 custard cups. Place custard cups in large baking pan, half
filled with water. Bake at 350⁰ for 30 minutes. Yield: 8 servings.
Many Thanks to Nell Clark of Franklin, Louisiana, for Joe's Favorite Cup Custard. The recipe appears in From the Sugar Bowl, a cookbook published by the American Sugar Cane League.