For the first time, a Louisiana sugar cane farmer will be on the federal board that oversees sugar and sweetener policy in the nation.
Eddie Jude Lewis III of Youngsville has been appointed to the Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee for the United States Department of Agriculture. Lewis will serve on one of six Agricultural Technical Advisory Committees through 2025.
He and his brothers can trace their roots in cane farming back six generations of sons. As early as the 1920’s, Lewis’s ancestors started growing sugar cane in Louisiana with only 4 acres of land which has grown to more than 4,000 acres of sugarcane in Lafayette, Iberia, and Vermilion parishes.
Eddie III said he never planned on being a farmer because his father, Eddie Jr. and grandfather Eddie “Boss Man” Lewis had the situation under control. After Lewis’s father passed in their fields at 49 years old, Lewis quit his stockbroking job to save his father’s crop. Now, he and his younger brothers Jordan and Hunter manage Eddie Lewis Cane Farms LLC where they produce 5 million pounds of sugar a year.
After buying out their grandfather, the brothers became the largest young Black sugarcane farmers in the country. Their lives are the backdrop for “Queen Sugar,” a popular TV series on the Oprah Winfrey Network that’s based on a novel by Natalie Baszile. They also raise beef cattle and chickens, growing sweet potatoes, corn, okra, and produce to feed their family, employees, and animals.
Lewis, along with Jack Pettus of the American Sugar Cane League, will be leading the charge for cane producers as the USDA makes decisions on policy and trade for various commodities produced and sold for export in the United States.
With Lewis being an actual sugar cane producer, the Louisiana ag commuity said he will bring grassroots guidance to the committee and hopefully the nation’s Ag policy as well.