Harry L. Laws & Company, the majority owner of the Catherine Sugar Company, is creating a non-endowed fund to further research at the LSU AgCenter Sugar Research Station in St. Gabriel.
The $250,000 fund, which will be known as the Harry L. Laws & Co. Sugarcane Molecular Research Fund, will provide support to the AgCenter relating to molecular research in sugarcane at the Sugar Research Station, the School of Plant Environment and Soil Sciences, and the Department of Plant Pathology and Crop Physiology, which includes equipment purchases.
Kenneth Gravois, AgCenter sugarcane specialist, said gifts such as the research fund provided by Harry L. Laws & Co. support an ongoing molecular breeding project under the direction of Niranjan Baisakh, AgCenter molecular biologist and geneticist.
“Molecular breeding approaches improve the accuracy of selection within the commercial sugarcane breeding program,” Gravois said. “Genomic selection predicts the genetic value of an experimental sugarcane variety without the confounding effects of the environment.”
Sugarcane breeding efforts have doubled sugar yields in the past 50 years, he said.
This gift from Harry L. Law & Co. will help lay the foundation for sugar yield gains for the next 50 years.
Drew Maciasz, Harry L. Laws & Company president and CEO, said the company has been committed to the sugar industry for 150 years, both as a landowner and as a processor, having operated the Cinclare Central Factory for more than a century.
“As a beneficiary of sugar for so many years, we felt compelled to provide additional resources to the LSU AgCenter for targeted variety research and development, hopefully assisting the industry with tools to keep it going strong for years to come,” Maciasz said. “We firmly understand and value the partnership between research, efficient farm management and support of stakeholders to make the sugar industry a continued success.”
Louisiana’s cane farmers and millers and landowners have always understood the importance of research and the necessity to provide financial and in-kind support for this work, said Jim Simon, general manager of the American Sugar Cane League.
“While the whole industry supports this work, some make additional commitments to targeted research initiatives,” he said. “Harry L. Laws & Co. perfectly understands how crucial research is to our industry’s success.”
Simon said the company’s significant commitment to the Sugarcane Molecular Research Fund will go a long way to help foster this new and exciting technique in sugarcane variety development.
Andrew J. Schade, director of development for the College of Agriculture, LSU AgCenter and the School of Veterinary Medicine, said this is a good opportunity to feature the Sugar Research Station.
“It also highlights our cutting-edge research and the three-way collaboration between the AgCenter, League and a private company with the goal of benefitting the entire industry.”