Louisiana's Agriculture Industry Looking For New Generation Of Farmers

Where have all the young farmers gone? That question is at the heart of the ag industry in Louisiana, which employs the most people in the state.

Despite bumper crops in recent years, including right here in northwest Louisiana, some have long-term fears about this two-billion-dollar-a-year industry.

Poultry, timber and cotton are just three pieces to a two billion dollar puzzle: the agriculture industry in the state of Louisiana.

"When we walk into a grocery store, we take for granted everything is going to be there and maybe four or five or six brands of it," said Farm Bureau Agent Manager Don Brown.

Farm Bureau and the LSU Ag Center hosted the Second Annual Natchitoches Agricultural Day. Agriculture is the number one industry in Natchitoches Parish. In fact, experts say it brings in $200 million a year.

"We'll always need it. It'll always be there. It is huge, huge, huge in our area," said Brown.

But agriculture experts say the number of farmers is dwindling, and they say it's critical for a new generation to take interest in the industry.

Hubert Wilkerson, a county agent for the LSU Ag Center, says he can remember when nearly 80 people farmed in Natchitoches Parish. Wilkerson says you can now count the number of farmers on two hands, with the majority near retirement. "We don't have a lot of young farmers anymore and when I say young, I mean in their 20s and 30s."

Wilkerson hopes programs including 4H and agricultural expos inspire the next generation of people who will take pride in putting the produce in the stores.