By Avery Davidson, Louisiana Farm Bureau News
BATON ROUGE—Incomes, immigration and advocacy will dominate the discussion when Louisiana farmers, ranchers and landowners gather in New Orleans for the 96th Annual Meeting of the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports net farm income is expected to drop 6.7% this year to the lowest level since 2006. The USDA attributes the drop in farm income to low commodity prices and poor weather conditions during the growing season.
“It’s really sad that the men and women who grow our food and fiber have to wonder, yet again, ‘am I going to make it this year,’” said Louisiana Farm Bureau President Ronnie Anderson. “When you spend a dollar on food, only 14.8 cents make it back to the farmer. That’s just not enough.”
The failure of the U.S. House of Representatives to pass the 2018 Farm Bill last week adds to that uncertainty. Members of the House Freedom Caucus voted against the measure because Congress had not yet voted on an unrelated immigration bill.
“Farm labor is of utmost importance to Louisiana agriculture,” Anderson added. “Our sugar, crawfish and fresh produce industries rely heavily on the H-2A and H-2B visa programs to get temporary workers from other countries when local workers are not available.”
Meetings where farmers can discuss and learn about labor and commodity prices are on the agenda for the 96th Annual Meeting of the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation. Farmers and ranchers will also have the opportunity to learn about telling their own stories online from Michelle Miller, The Farm Babe.
“Having someone, like Michelle Miller, who gains national attention by speaking up for agriculture, come to our convention is great,” Anderson said. “She really does a good job of targeting misinformation and replacing it with fact. It’s that kind of advocacy that can really fire up Louisiana Farm Bureau members.”
Other dignitaries expected to attend the Louisiana Farm Bureau 96th Annual Meeting are American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall, Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser, Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry Mike Strain and 5th District Congressman Ralph Abraham.
The annual meeting is set to begin Thursday, June 21 at the New Orleans Marriott at 555 Canal Blvd., New Orleans, La. and will run through Sunday, June 24. More than 1,000 Louisiana Farm Bureau Members and their families are expected to attend.
Founded in 1922, the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation is the state’s largest general farm organization representing more than 140,000 member families.