- Agronomic: sugarcane
- Farm Business Management: economic/marketing
In the South Central region of coastal Louisiana devastated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the sugarcane industry has sustained the rural economy for three centuries. With generations of families having lived the farming lifestyle and passed on the knowledge, love of the land, and physical infrastructure from generation to generation, the industry is facing forces never seen before.
Family farms have operated as small businesses with most having little true business experience or formal training to assist them in implementing and utilizing some of the business practices that might allow them to navigate the current business climate.
“Farmers as Entrepreneurs” was created to fill a void that currently exists by providing access to information, technical assistance and training to the farming community. The process is designed to promote wise and productive choices for future uses of these family farms, their assets and natural resources.
“Farmers as Entrepreneurs” created a process where farmers view themselves as business owners and make connections to the local business community. To achieve this goal, data was needed to document the impact the farmers where experiencing due to recent and proposed import legislation. The progam was also designed to provide a local support mechanism and methodology for producers, landowners and others to utilize when considering new business ventures and diversification opportunities. Business technical assistance to area farmers and affected businesses was designed with the use of seminars, workshops and one-on-one counseling.
These objectives were achieved by coordinating with the local county agent, the general manager of the local sugar co-op, and the involvement of area agriculture bank lenders. A core group of interested farmers was created and roundtables were established. Several farmers considered and instituted new endeavors during the process. Several others are now considering new directions because of devastation from the storms.
A dialog has been created and lines of communication opened which allowed for joint endeavors after the hurricanes.