The Louisiana sugar cane industry had a record breaking 2012 production season. The news was shared during the annual American Sugar Cane League membership meeting on Tuesday. The event was held at the Lafayette Hilton, simultaneously with the American Society of Sugar Cane Technologists. The meeting is an opportunity for farmers, millers and researchers to join other members and discuss the 2012 harvest results and the forces that affect the sugar industry. Jim Simon, general manager of the ASCL, said over one million tons of raw sugar was produced in 2012.
"The Louisiana sugar industry has never made more raw sugar that in the past year," said Simon.
The record breaking season was motivating to many, but soon the discussion turned to market prices and politics. Senator R. L. "Bret" Allian (District 21), a 10th generation sugar cane farmer from St. Mary Parish said sugar prices are down for farmers. Allian explained farmers are having to tighten their belts and cut back on equipment and production in order to make ends meet.
"It's nothing we haven't seen before," he began, "but it's always a little better when the prices are a little higher and we are a little more comfortable."
Soon, the talk of price per pound brought up concerns about the 2013 farm bill.
"We've just come back from Washington and we have spoken with other senators and representative about the farm bill, which only received an extension this year. This is going to be intensely debated," Allian explained.
"What we will be up against is arguments from the people who buy sugar, the candy companies, the ice cream manufacturers," said Jack Roney, director of Economics and Policy Analysis. "They would want to try to get as low a price as possible, but we want to ensure that the price is good for the market and our farmers are given the chance to survive."
The convention will continue through Wednesday, February 6th with the ASSCT meeting.