Like Brady, Elvis, Einstein and other one-name celebrities, the name B.D. conjures only one man in Louisiana rice circles.
After 40 years of providing advice to his rice-producing customers and working with the LSU AgCenter to find novel solutions to production challenges, B.D. Fontenot has quite the fan club.
“He is by far the best rice consultant I have ever had the pleasure to work with,” says Steve Linscombe, rice breeder and LSU AgCenter director emeritus. “He is knowledgeable, meticulous, hardworking and a real pleasure to be around.”
Former LSU AgCenter weed scientist Eric Webster agrees. “Many times, representatives in the industry ask, ‘How do we get producers to adopt our technology?’ My answer was always the same: ‘If you want to sell this product in south Louisiana, you better get B.D. on board.’”
Fontenot’s peers and colleagues honored him as the 2021 Rice Consultant of the Year at this year’s Mid-South Farm & Gin Show in Memphis. Corteva Agriscience and Rice Farming magazine sponsor the award, which recognizes dedication, leadership and innovation of this critical segment of the U.S. rice industry.
A small-town guy in a large family, Fontenot grew up in Mamou, Louisiana. He landed his first job in agriculture, picking cotton when he was 10. He’s been working ever since.
Working through school, Fontenot graduated from the University of Louisiana in Lafayette with a major in agronomy and a minor in chemistry.
“I always loved chemistry. I was the only non-vet or pre-med student in my college biochemistry class,” he says. “And my minor in chemistry has helped me a lot, because I sell chemistry.”
Fontenot’s love of agriculture led him to a post-college job with Farm Bureau. After a while, he began looking for jobs closer to production agriculture and landed in the ag retail industry in 1980. While the company name out front has changed several times since, Fontenot has remained. Today, he continues to serve rice producers as a crop consultant with Nutrien Ag Solutions in Elton, Louisiana.
“If you show me somebody that is good at what they do, I will show you a person who likes what they do for a living,” Fontenot says. “It never did bother me to go to work because I like my job and I work for some very good people.”
Through the years, Fontenot’s primary focus has remained unchanged. “The goal is always a clean field that has rice, mud and water in the field only,” he says.
“When I go to a customer’s farm, I try to objectively analyze the problem. Often, that means finding a new way or a better way to do something,” Fontenot says. “Most of the problems we encounter could have been handled easily if weather didn’t get in the way, because timing is everything.”
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