Sugar cane crisis meeting

FRANKLIN, La. — The LSU AgCenter will cosponsor an informational meeting for sugarcane farmers from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. Nov. 19.

Billed as a "farm crisis meeting," it will be held at the at the American Legion Hall on Sterling Road in Franklin.

The meeting, which also is sponsored by the American Sugar Cane League, is intended to provide farmers with information that can help them weather the devastating effects of recent storms and continued rains.

Current rough estimates from LSU AgCenter economists show total agricultural damage from this fall's weather exceeding $440 million, and $338 million of that figure is attributed to this year's sugarcane crop — not to mention potential damage to future crops.

LSU AgCenter sugarcane specialist Ben Legendre said there is hope some relief may be coming to help farmers recover from the storm damage, low sugar recovery rates and other problems proving disastrous for the sugarcane industry.

"We will get a report on a program that Charlie Melancon and Charles Thibaut of the Sugar Cane League have been working on in Washington that could help Louisiana farmers recoup some of their losses," Legendre said of the upcoming meeting.

While Legendre stressed there are no promises and nobody really knows what to expect, he said sugarcane farmers should attend this meeting to hear the latest from Louisiana's congressional delegation, Willie Cooper of the Farm Service Agency, the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation and the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry.

LSU AgCenter county agent Jimmy Flanagan said the purpose of the meeting is to provide sugarcane producers with firsthand information about the status of their industry.

"There will be various officials from the AgCenter there to discuss assistance that's available, such as farm management plan assistance, stress management and other programs that are available during a farm crisis," Flanagan said, adding the meeting is open to all farmers, mill operators and anyone else who has an interest in the sugar industry.

"The sugarcane industry is in the midst of a tough situation, and in order to survive, we must be proactive," Flanagan said.

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