Lafourche Sugars, the sugarcane mill in Thibodaux, represents the changing nature of Louisiana’s 224-year old sugarcane industry. Ben LeBlanc, the manager of Lafourche Sugars, is the representation of a new breed of sugar millers. He was attracted to sugarcane industry, not because it was in his blood, but simply because there was a cane field in the backyard at his boyhood home in Raceland.
The Vallot family has been working steadily for five generations in the Grosse Isle community of Vermilion Parish and have grown their sugarcane farm to more than 3,000 acres. The secret to their success? Hard work.
Todd Landry is a great farmer. He farms along Bayou Teche his younger brother, Patrick. He’s proud of his success but wonders what more he could have learned about life and farming had his father had lived just one more day.
The Bain family of Bunkie, Louisiana has always been known for their progressive attitude toward farming. Sterling Bain Sr., the deceased patriarch of Bain Farms in Avoyelles/Rapides, was always at the forefront of technological innovation. You can ask any of his sons and grandsons who followed him into the fields.
A lot of industry observers would classify Bobby Morris of West Baton Rouge Parish and his family members that make up Morris Farms Partnership as the ideal American family farming enterprise.
Louisiana’s sugarcane industry has been a top economic driver in the state for more than 221 years and is celebrating the family farmers who have been farming cane for generations in a series of television ads this 2016 harvesting season.
Sugarcane farmer Charles Guidry of Erath, Louisiana knew that if he was going to get ahead, things would have to change. But as the old Serenity Prayer goes, one has to have the courage to change the things one can.
Dane Berard Sugarcane farmer Dane Berard of Breaux Bridge runs his operation pretty much like the other 483 growers of the Sugar Belt. He and his partner, Glenn Thibodaux, have an investment in their sugarcane and soybean farm and have been successful for many years.
Donald Segura of New Iberia says he’s retired but he may be busier than ever. For a man that likes to stay busy, that’s saying a lot. The 76-year-old French speaker has concurrently been a sugarcane, okra, pepper, wheat and soybean farmer while he was a dairyman milking 100 cows twice a day, driving a school bus and operating a community grocery store.
Eddie Lewis III of Youngsville never planned on being a sugarcane farmer. His grandfather, Eddie “Boss Man” Lewis Sr., and father, Eddie Lewis Jr., ran the family farming operation. But plans are plans and reality doesn’t always cooperate. And while a lot of things have changed in southeastern Lafayette Parish, the Lewis family has been farming sugarcane off Linden Lewis Road for six generations.
The Bubenzers owe a lot to their grandfather, Harvey, and father, Harvey Jr., who instilled in the boys an appreciation for skillful land management, planning and research.”He (my father) was really the innovator as far as land leveling,” Grady said. “We had a lot of problem with Johnson grass back in those days but he really made it a lot easier on us, the next generation,
Retired sugarcane farmer Harold Schexnayder Sr. 85, of White Castle, La., has been a public servant for his country, state, parish and community for a good portion of his life.
Pierre Simeon Patout came to Louisiana from France with a dream of becoming the premier vintner of the South. He started his vineyard in 1825 in the community which came to be known as Patoutville. He quickly learned that Louisiana, despite sharing the same French language as the Loire River valley, did not share the grape growing climate.
A fifth generation farmer, Joby Beaud comes from a family whose name is synonymous with farming in Pointe Coupee Parish.
In medieval times, noble families had specific rules for inheritance. The oldest son inherited the noble title and all of the lands. The best bet for the second son was to become a scholar and learn to make a living by his wits. The third son was “given” to the Church. In Ken Gravois’s sugarcane farming family of six, he and his twin brother didn’t consider the priesthood, but decided to give the scholarly world a sshot.
Leonce J. Carmouche Jr. of Belle Rose doesn’t know exactly how long his family has been growing sugarcane in Assumption Parish but it’s a long time. He’s not really too concerned about genealogy. What’s on his mind is harvesting his sugarcane fields as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Pointe Coupee Grower George Lacour is essentially a first generation sugarcane farmer. Yes, his family has been in farming for geneartions but George began growing sugarcane in 1992, but the Lacour family has been in Pointe Coupee Parish since 1782 so George has a long farming heritage.
Do it yourself — that’s the only way that sugarcane farmer Lane Blanchard and his brothers, Harvey and Brant know how to make things happen down at their Iberia Parish farm.
It is said that prosperity is a great teacher, but adversity is a much tougher taskmaster. Those opposing ideas faced the management of the old Breaux Bridge Sugar Cooperative and the St. Martin Sugar Cooperative back in the 1980s and 90s. The result of their collaboration is LASUCA.
When farmers put their mind to something, the work gets done. That’s how St. Mary Sugar Co-Op sugarcane mill got started.
Lula-Westfield is one success story. The Lula Sugar Factory in Belle Rose and the Westfield Sugar Factory in Paincourtville were destined to merge as the families who owned them were already connected by marriage and blood.
Sugarcane farmer Mark Patout of Jeanerette was one of the League members concerned about issues affecting the public’s perception of the sugarcane business. He believes it’s important for the non-farming public to know that sugarcane farmers are a conscientious group concerned about road safety and environmental issues.
Many Louisiana sugarcane farmers say their farming operation is just a little ol’ family-owned farm, but the Mitchel J. Ourso family of Iberville Parish takes it to an extreme.
A conversation with St. John the Baptist Parish sugarcane farmer Pierre “Pete” Lanaux slips easily between the past and the present. At 88 years old, Mr. Pete may be the state’s eldest farmer. Certainly his farming career, which spans 68 years, is older than the average age (55) of the American farmer.
Rodney Simoneaux of Assumption Parish is surveying a wet field on the north side of Highway 38. Even though it’s late November, he’s hoping it will dry up enough to plant sugarcane.
South Louisiana land is good for many things, but it’s especially good for growing sugarcane…and it’s good for Iberia Parish farmer Ronnie Gonsoulin. Gonsoulin and his cane farming brethren can grow sugarcane in just about any soil type in the Bayou State.
Ronald Hebert Jr’s progression into sugarcane farming was natural. His father, Ronald Sr., and grandfather, Dozelia, were both cane farmers and got Ronald off to a good start and he began hauling cane when he was 16. When Ronald was old enough, his father retired but “he never really quit farming, and bossing me around.”
St. Mary Parish sugarcane farmer Ted Broussard was born to be a farmer.”A farmer’s job changes every ten minutes,” Ted said as he directed his cane wagons across Verdunville Road to his loading site.He clearly enjoys being a farmer and attacks every challenge like a general devising a battle plan.
This is the story of four brothers, Dudley, Wilson, Roy and J.C. Viator, who started their farming careers in Iberia Parish in the 1940s. They were the sons of Abara and Mae Viator, descendants of Antonia Villatore, one of the original Spanish families who settled New Iberia in 1779.
Sugarcane producer Paul Schexnayder doesn’t call a lot of attention to his farming operation in Pointe Coupee Parish. He’s just concentrating on getting the most sugar out of the land.
In the eyes of Alton (Al) Landry Jr., all the past kings of the Louisiana Sugar Cane Festival are in the pantheon of sugarcane industry leaders.