Farmers and ranchers — they are our unsung heroes. Without them, we would have nothing to eat or clothes to wear. Luckily, the Louisiana Radio Network, Louisiana Farm Bureau, LSU AgCenter and the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry take time every year to celebrate Louisiana’s agricultural heroes.

This year’s Agricultural Hall of Distinction induction took place March 7 at the L’Auberge Event Center. The honorees, who to a person called the recognition “humbling,” included:

George LaCour Jr., of Morganza, who played a “critical” role in re-establishing cotton in Pointe Coupee Parish after it was all but abandoned in the early 1970s. He was the leading force behind the building of the Tri-Parish Gin in Lettsworth as a grower-owned ginning and whole-seed marketing operation.

Linda Zaunbrecher, of Gueydan, who was recognized as a pioneer for women serving as leaders in Louisiana agriculture, along with her work in establishing the Louisiana Farm Bureau Foundation. She is only the second woman to be inducted into the Hall of Distinction.

Grady Coburn, of Cheneyville, who serves as an independent agricultural consultant and researcher. Over the past 40 years, his insights have helped farmers throughout the state and around the country improve pest management and optimize profits.

And, the late Jack Hamilton, a native of Lake Providence who was recognized for his crucial innovations to cotton production and ginning, as well as his role in the formation of the Agricultural Corporation Self-Insurance Fund. His award was accepted by his daughter, Lee Hamilton Trichel.

“We stand on the shoulders of those who came before us,” said Louisiana Department of Agriculture & Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain.

“Food is a right of all who are born,” he continued, adding that for the first time since World War II, more wheat and rice have been consumed than produced. “We’re in a race … We must do everything in our power to increase production to feed the world. We have a moral duty to produce enough food to feed this world.”

Adding their congratulations to Strain’s were Gov. John Bel Edwards, via video, and Bill Richardson, LSU vice president for agriculture. Richardson, who had the idea for the Hall of Distinction, handed out the awards with Louisiana Radio Network’s senior farm broadcaster Don Molino.


Follow Pam Bordelon on Twitter, @pamspartyline.