Produce growers in Louisiana recently met and formed Louisiana Fruit and Vegetable Growers to help members increase their knowledge of producing fruit and vegetable crops.

LSU AgCenter gardening specialist and secretary for the group Kiki Fontenot said a Louisiana vegetable growers group stopped functioning a few years ago.“We wanted to make sure the fruit growers in the state have a voice, so we decided to combine them with the vegetable growers since both groups are normally growing the same crops.”

The new organization will give both groups increased bargaining power for marketing and dealing with government officials on policy issues.“If there’s some new issue being debated or if there are other common concerns of the growers, this group will give them the voice they need to affect change.”

Officers elected at the first meeting represent growers from each area of the state.

“What we don’t want is for this group to be formed and nothing happens afterward,” Fontenot said. “We want to meet at least annually and to produce a semi-annual or quarterly newsletter to keep the members up to date on what’s happening in the industry.”

Each area of the state will be represented on the board so everyone can feel they are a part of what’s happening in the industry, Fontenot said.

The group’s new president is Eddie Romero of New Iberia. Fontenot will serve as secretary, and Pam Ferrin, of Baton Rouge is the treasurer.Other board members are Brandt Robin from Church Point, Carl Howell from Pioneer, Kevin Allen from Farmerville, Alyssa Denny from New Orleans and Conwith Davis from Alexandria.

Romero said he’s interested in seeing the group grow and provide a needed service for the industry.

“There may be a question on how a certain provision in the farm bill will affect the industry,” Fontenot said. “This group could provide a way to let others in the industry know what it means to their bottom line.”

For additional information about the Louisiana Fruit and Vegetable Growers, contact Fontenot at (225) 578-2417.