The annual Farmers Appreciation Banquet has been canceled due to COVID-19, according to Lisa Kiper, Winnsboro-Franklin Parish Chamber of Commerce.

This year would have marked the 22 year the annual event was held. The banquet pays tribute to the importance of the agricultural industry in the parish and gives honor to the first bale of cotton and first load of corn.

“The mayor didn’t want us to have it because of all of people that would have been there and the threat of the virus spread,” said Kiper.

The event usually draws more than 200 people.

Instead of the banquet, Kiper and Chamber members have come up with a way to honor farmers.

“We’re going to be giving $30 gift cards to farmers,” Kiper said. “They’ll be instructed on how to pick them up later.”

A farmers appreciation essay will also be sponsored by the Chamber and The Franklin Sun.

The essay must be at least than 600 words and no more than 750 words and be submitted by Oct. 14. The contest is open to all Franklin Parish eighth graders.

Winners will be announced in The Franklin Sun Oct. 28.

First place winner will be $50. Second place winner will be $30 and third place will be $20.

Additionally, the local farming industry will be honored the month of October with special articles in The Franklin Sun.

This week the Louisiana Century Farms in Franklin Parish was highlighted on page 8A.

Three local farms qualified for the honor given by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture. They are Boeuf Prairie Farms operated by Jack Dailey and N.B. Dailey Estate and Bowden Place operated by Greg Kincaid.

This year, farmers planted 95,000 acres of corn, and 50,000 acres of soybeans.

Cotton continues to draw dismal numbers with 10,500 acres. Catfish pond acreage is up locally from last year’s total of 50 acres to 340 acres.

Nationally, corn and soybean production is up from 2019, according to the Crop Production report issued by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).

Soybean production is up 21percent from last year, forecasted at 4.31 billion bushels. Corn growers are expected to increase their production 9 percent from 2019, forecast at 14.9 billion bushels.

The average U.S. corn yield is forecast at a record high 178.5 bushels per acre, down 3.3 bushels from last month’s forecast but up 11.1 bushels from last year.

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