Sugarcane industry professionals meet for annual conference

Photo Credit: KLFY

Hundreds of sugarcane professionals from all over the region gathered here in Lafayette for an annual conference focusing solely on the sugar cane industry.

Louisiana has 22 sugar growing parishes.

Vendors, farmers, and exhibitors from many of them attended today’s event.

“All of the different farmers come together, all the bankers come together, they give economic updates, political updates, so we can kind of see where the future is going,” Said Lewis.

Jim Simon, general manager of the American Sugarcane League says while the oil and gas industry is experiencing a downturn, the sugarcane industry is here and viable.

“Lafayette is such an oil and gas town that sometimes we forget about the importance of agriculture and it’s a driver for the area,” Simon told KLFY’s Kellie Brown.

He says 40% of sugarcane acres are in parishes right here in Acadiana, allowing them to play a crucial role in our economy.

“It has a 2 1/2 billion dollar economic impact to the state, into the one Acadiana area or the Lafayette area, it’s got an economic impact of almost half $1 billions dollars,” Simon explained.

Eddie Lewis III, who is a sixth-generation sugarcane farmer, said he’s seen an influx of new workers lately, “We are hiring people that got at laid off in the oilfield to work on our farms.”

Simon said the sugarcane industry prides itself on being the backbone of Acadiana’s community, especially during times like this.

“There’s usually more workers available to us, folks looking for jobs, that kind of stuff. So it’s an unfortunate occurrence that folks are out of work but it does provide us with maybe a larger labor pool,” Simon said.

Lewis said while the sugarcane industry can fluctuate, attending this conference allows him to stay up to date on all things sugarcane.

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