State officials will partner with Jefferson Davis Parish leaders on a $11.6 million rice mill in Lacassine that will handle up to 25,000 bushels of rice for storage and export. 

Gov. John Bel Edwards and the South Louisiana Rail Facility announced the project Thursday that will create seven new jobs at an average salary of $43,103 and other indirect jobs. SLRF will invest $10 million to equip the new facility, with construction of the 15,000-square-foot facility to start in September.

SLRF, launched in 2010 to receive, preserve and distribute paddy rice to international markets, will partner 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,” 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.”

SLRF helps Louisiana farmers market rough rice internationally for more competitive prices. The facility will be on land owned by the Louisiana Agricultural Finance Authority, which will retain ownership of the mill.

“Investment in agricultural infrastructure will markedly grow our rural and state economy,” said Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry Mike Strain. “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."

LED began discussing the potential project with SLRF and Agreeta in April. To secure the project, the state 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.

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Email Adam Daigle at adaigle@theadvocate.com.