Farmers' growing concerns - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Farmers' growing concerns

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LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -

Farmers across the region are concerned with the state of the agriculture business. They are worried about federal government regulations and funding, among other issues.

Agriculture is one of the top industries in the state of Louisiana and in Southwest Louisiana. There is plenty of farmland and plenty of concerned farmers.

"Our Farm Bill and the problems we've had on getting a new Farm Bill passed and the uncertainties that gives us has been a real issue that is on the minds of many producers in this area," said John Benison of Sweet Lake Land and Oil Company. 

Benison, along with some other concerned producers and farmers, came together Thursday to discuss ideas and other topics on how to improve the industry.

Benison said he knows those in the industry, like himself, will survive through the tough times.

"As in all businesses, we have threats from federal regulations and with competitiveness from other countries. Agriculture is a commodity that competes worldwide and we have to compete with other countries with their politics," Benison said.

That's one threat among others the farmers listed such as lack of funding and troubles with climate like drought and saltwater intrusion.

But one of the big issues farmers are fighting right now are the high input costs within the industry.

"There is hope for the future, but it's still a struggle to get to that point because farmers, like they said earlier, is such a risky business. It's not, you're not going to get paid every month a certain amount like working or being a teacher or whatever because it all depends on how the weather is,"said Jimmy Meaux, County Agent for the Calcasieu Parish LSU Agriculture.

And under sequestration, when and if it happens, Commissioner of Agriculture Dr. Mike Strain said the farming industry will lose close to $4 billion or more along with a lack of appropriate foods on the shelves at grocery stores. All of this will be due to changes in the way food is inspected, according to Strain, who said the agriculture industry will prevail.

"The hope for the farmer, of all the sectors in America, the agriculture sector has the greatest hope of all," Strain said. "We are very optimistic, we're going to fight very hard. There's nothing tougher in this world than our farmers, foresters and fishers."

In Louisiana, the agriculture business will continue to facilitate commerce and provide for the health, safety and security of farmers.

Strain is expected to look at the information gathered from farmers from the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance meetings to find trends. From there, he will figure out ways to improve the agriculture industry for farmers in Louisiana.

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