IOWA, La. — Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards and the South Louisiana Rail Facility announced SLRF will develop an $11.6 million rice mill in Jefferson Davis Parish. Located at the Lacassine Industrial Park, SLRF is owned by the Jefferson Davis Parish Police Jury and can handle up to 25,000 bushels of rice per hour for storage and export. The new project will create seven new direct jobs, with an average annual salary of $43,103, plus benefits. Louisiana Economic Development estimates the project will result in 28 new indirect jobs, for a total of 35 new jobs in Louisiana’s Southwest Region.
SLRF will invest $10 million to equip the new facility, with construction slated to begin in September 2020. SLRF was launched in 2010 to receive, preserve and distribute paddy rice to international markets. SLRF is partnering with the India-based Agreeta Farmer Network to optimize the facility’s logistics and to prepare local farm products for international markets. The SLRF rice mill will have an expected life span of several decades and will serve hundreds of rice farmers and investors in Southwest Louisiana.
“Rice cultivation and distribution has been a bedrock agribusiness for our state since its earliest days, and today I join the South Louisiana Rail Facility in announcing a new chapter in its history,” Gov. Edwards said. “The South Louisiana Rail Facility’s new rice mill will reward the hard work of more than 200 Louisiana rice farmers with added value for their operations and diversified products for international markets. This new facility will be built to last and to provide opportunities for Louisiana farmers for decades to come.”
Development of the 15,000-square-foot facility will result in the creation of 20 construction jobs. SLRF expects construction to be complete by January 2021, and hiring for the new on-site jobs will begin soon after.
“The South Louisiana Rail Facility is excited to partner with Agreeta to continue to provide new marketing avenues to the region’s rice growers,” said SLRF Manager Mark Pousson. “This collaboration will ensure that sustainably sourced Louisiana rice is available to consumers in Southwest Louisiana and beyond.”
SLRF helps Louisiana farmers market rough rice internationally for more competitive prices. The facility will be situated on land owned by the Louisiana Agricultural Finance Authority, which will retain ownership of the mill. With the support of Agreeta and the ultimate increase in international activity, the project represents a major international and agricultural win for Louisiana.
“Investment in agricultural infrastructure will markedly grow our rural and state economy,” said Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry Mike Strain, D.V.M. “Louisiana produces rice valued at more than $350 million annually. The new rice mill in Jeff Davis Parish will give our farmers another avenue to add value to and sell locally produced rice. Value-added processing not only adds greater value to our crop, but also increases our ability to market our rice domestically and internationally."
“Jeff Davis Parish supports the South Louisiana Rail Facility and its board of directors in their innovative efforts to develop additional markets for our farmers,” said President Donald Woods of the Jeff Davis Parish Police Jury. “Our parish continues to aggressively pursue opportunities for our citizens and businesses.”
LED began discussing the potential project with SLRF and Agreeta in April. To secure the project, the State of Louisiana is providing $1.6 million to SLRF through the state’s performance-based Economic Development Award Program, which is designated for infrastructure needs on site and at the mill.
“Adding value to the crops our farmers grow brings economic benefits to the producers and the economy,” said President and CEO Marion Fox of Jeff Davis Parish Economic Development, Tourism and Chamber of Commerce. “Agriculture is a huge economic driver in Jeff Davis Parish, and we are striving to continue our way of life.”
“One Acadiana congratulates South Louisiana Rail Facility and Agreeta Farming Network on the development of the new rice mill in Jeff Davis Parish,” said One Acadiana President and CEO Troy Wayman. “It’s always an exciting day when a company is committed to continuing growth in Acadiana, and we are pleased to partner with Jeff Davis Parish Economic Development and LED to celebrate this announcement.”
Shipping its first rice in 2012 as the most advanced rice rail-loading facility in the U.S, the South Louisiana Rail Facility represents more than 200 rice producers and investors. SLRF is owned by the Jefferson Davis Parish Police Jury and is located on land owned by the Louisiana Agricultural Finance Authority. Four tanks provide 156,000 bushels of pre-positioned cargo to load 40 rail cars, with trucks able to unload in four minutes through elevators that can handle up to 25,000 bushels per hour. For more information, visit SLRF.org.
Louisiana Economic Development is responsible for strengthening the state’s business environment and creating a more vibrant Louisiana economy. LED cultivates jobs and economic opportunity for the people of Louisiana, and promotes business opportunity for employers of all sizes. In 2019, LED attracted more than 80 new economic development projects representing 12,300 new jobs, 15,500 retained jobs and over $8.4 billion in new capital investment. LED’s Small Business Services team assisted more than 9,500 Louisiana small businesses and entrepreneurs in 2019. For more information, visit OpportunityLouisiana.com.