Covering Louisiana

Dec 28, 2012 1:46 PM by Press Release

2012 Agriculture & Forestry Year in Review

Baton Rouge, LA (December 28, 2012) - Despite setbacks such as this year's drought in the Midwest and Hurricane Isaac, Louisiana farmers had a productive year. Many of the state's major commodities saw record yields and historically high prices with export markets continuing to grow. The Louisiana agriculture industry's estimated value was nearly $11 billion in 2011. With high prices and yields, that number is expected to increase in 2012 once it is calculated.

The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) continues to streamline the department while maintaining vital services to the public:

* Enhancements in technology include hand held computer devices which have increased the overall efficiency and abilities of field and office personnel. Those devices are used to regulate pesticides and weights and measures and will be used for livestock traceability.

* In the timber industry, prices should continue to slowly increase as the economy recovers and the housing industry rebounds. The forestry division continues to develop innovative programs to combat forest fires and protect private and public properties.

* In 2012, Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M., was elected president of the Southern Association of State Departments of Agriculture representing 17 states and territories. He continues to serve as President of the Southern United States Trade Association which markets commodities produced in the southern states worldwide. These positions further enable Louisiana's voice to be heard on Capitol Hill.

* Low river levels continue to be a threat. LDAF is working with the federal delegation to encourage the Army Corps of Engineers to dredge and maintain the nation's waterways, ports, and inland locks, dams and infrastructure. The economy of Louisiana and all of America hinges on its ability to efficiently and economically move products domestically and abroad.

* LDAF continues to work with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Environmental Quality, the Office of Soil and Water Conservation, and agriculture centers to assist farmers and ranchers to become more environmentally friendly. For example, the new Master Rice Grower program through the LSU AgCenter is an incentive based program which certifies that rice is grown in an environmentally sustainable fashion.

* LDAF worked closely with the Department of Transportation and Development, Office of Public Safety, the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, Department of Health and Hospitals, and many other agencies in the governor's office on issues of commerce, health and safety, and disaster assistance during Hurricane Isaac. For example, LDAF provided fuel for emergency personnel, hospital and nursing home generators. Pet transportation was also provided in the evacuation process.

* During the last legislative session, 21 bills were passed into law repealing old, antiquated provisions and enhancing LDAF's ability to streamline and modernize the department.

"The changes, repeals and additions to agriculture laws will make the operations of the department more effective and responsive as we facilitate commerce and protect consumers. I am very appreciative of the continued good working relationship we have with the state legislature and especially the agricultural committees chaired by Senator Francis Thompson and Representative Andy Anders respectively," said Strain.

The disaster provisions of the Farm Bill expired in September 2011 and has not been renewed. Commissioner Strain continues to appeal to Washington for assistance and push for the passage of a new farm bill.

"In 2013, we look forward to strong commodity prices and expanding markets. We value our farmers and their hard work. The goals of this department are to continue to develop and protect a safe, high quality food and fiber supply for Louisiana citizens. Also, we will continue to push for state and federal legislation to protect and enhance our ability to produce, transport and market our products," said Strain.

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