by Sheila McCant, Public Information Officer
Addressing the Press Club of Baton Rouge this week, state Agriculture Commissioner Bob Odom discussed the future of agriculture in Louisiana and outlined what must be done to make the state's number one industry viable and prosperous.
Odom said the future of agriculture and forestry is in alternative fuels. He said Louisiana crops are a natural fit for producing alternative fuels. The legislation passed last year that sets minimum standards for these fuels made Louisiana the leader among southern states and paves the way for a greener environment, new markets for agricultural commodities, job growth, and economic development. The law also provides added incentives for companies to build plants in Louisiana to produce ethanol and bio-diesel. He pointed out that land planted in cotton has decreased from almost 800,000 acres to about 300,000 acres, while corn acreage has increased 150% as more farmers look to alternative fuels as their future.
"I am a firm believer that government, industry, and agriculture should partner together so farmers will play a role in the emerging alternative fuels industry," Odom said. "In order for a family farm to survive today, it must do three things: produce food and fiber, electricity, and fuel."