The 84th International Rice Festival will recognize Phillip Lamartiniere as the 2021 Farmer of the Year at its event, Oct. 14-17, in Crowley, Louisiana.
Lamartiniere was born, raised and currently resides in the small community of Fifth Ward, located 7 miles west of Marksville. He is a graduate of Fifth Ward High School and attended Louisiana State University-Alexandria for two years in agri-business.
Lamartiniere’s grandfather and father both farmed and raised cattle. It was his father’s vision to start planting rice with Phillip in 1986, even though neither had previously farmed the crop.
This was the beginning of L & P Rice Farming, which started during the farm crisis of the 1980s. Land was available and cheap to rent, and used equipment easy to acquire. Not being experienced in rice cultivation made the early years difficult.
With the advice and council of area rice farmers, information from the LSU AgCenter rice research station, hard work and sacrifice, things began to improve. Another major aid was the beginning of precision leveling on the farm.
Precision leveling comes to the farm
The father-son team started leveling in 1989 with the help of the Freys from Morganza. In 1996, L & P purchased their own leveling equipment and continued the practice.
As a result, the farm now consists of 1,450 precision leveled acres. In 2005, they set up a loop bin system with 30,000-barrel capacity (a barrel is 162 pounds). This gave them the ability to successfully dry rice with only air, lowering costs and producing a high-quality crop.
In 2001, L & P purchased the 2,300-acre farm they had been renting. In 2005, Phillip and wife Janis purchased his father’s interest in the farm.
L & P Rice Farming produces rice on 700 acres and crawfish on 350 acres. This is down from years past when they would historically plant 800 to 900 acres of rice.
Lower prices in past years encouraged them to plant only half their acreage each year, allowing the other half to rest. This rotation has not only made life easier but also their operation more sustainable. It has has measurably improved soil fertility and health.
Lamartiniere currently dedicates his time to various organizations, including the Cenla Rice Growers Association, Avoyelles Farm Bureau, Louisiana Rice Growers Association, Louisiana Rice Council, Farm Bureau Rice Advisory Board, Farm Bureau Crawfish Advisory Board, Spring Bayou Lake Commission and Louisiana Watershed Initiative Steering Committee.
The International Rice Festival contributed this article.