If you’re interested in seeing what the future of farming looks like, look no further than the sugarcane fields of Louisiana. There, sugarcane farmer Shelby Duplantis and sugar analyst Sandor Garcia are paving new roads for young sugar producers.
Shelby Duplantis is the fifth generation in her family to farm, working side-by-side with her father to raise sugarcane while also raising her own family.
Shelby didn’t always want to farm. But after attending business school, she saw an opportunity to utilize her education and leverage data to make their family farming operation more efficient and more sustainable every season.
Shelby is proud to be setting a strong example for other women farmers and hopes to see others follow her lead.
“If there were more women in powerful positions, or just where more people could see them, maybe more girls would want to be in farming,” Shelby said.
Sandor Garcia, a sugar analyst at M.A. Patout, entered the sugar industry after college. Originally from El Salvador, Sandor was hired to train with a market analyst who was about to retire.
M.A. Patout runs the oldest family-owned sugar mill in the United States. The company’s namesake, Mary Ann Patout, was one of the most remarkable women in Louisiana history. It’s still a family-oriented company, and Sandor credits the company’s positive culture with being a force for good in his community.
“Obviously whenever you think about sustainability, the environmental part comes to mind. And I think we’ve got that covered,” Sandor says. “But also, I think sustainability means, what are you doing for your employees?”
“That’s part of the sustainability story that needs to be kept in mind, that these jobs are jobs that are good.”
America’s sugar industry supports 142,000 good-paying jobs in more than 20 states across the country. The farmers, workers and communities that rely on sugar are at the very heart of our industry and we’re proud to see how sugar producers like Shelby and Sandor are setting the stage for a more sustainable future.