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LA Gov. and Ag Commissioner focus on farmers, ways to help

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ARNAUDVILLE, La. -

At Olivier Farms in Arnaudville, around 130 mostly agricultural producers voiced their concerns and put forth questions to Governor John Bel Edwards and Agricultural Commissioner Mike Strain on how they can improve their industry.

"If you include the value-added component of Ag and forestry, it's 13 billion dollars. An awful lot of revenue, an awful lot of jobs. And, also it preserves a way of life," said Governor John Bel Edwards 

One major topic, a deteriorating road infrastructure.

Governor Edwards says the late 80's was the last time a sales tax was passed for roads and its value has decreased by more than half due to inflation. 

"With agriculture and the timber industry, and these other industries that we have in these rural areas, we have a lot of 18-wheelers on the road. A lot of different weight limits there, and unfortunately in getting our products where we need to get them, once we're harvesting. Our vehicles and the transportation we use to do that hauling of our crops, it can cause damage to the roads," said Denise Cannatella of Cannatella Outdoor Farms.  

Another concern, foreign worker identification regulations that stop traffic at entryways to ports which can hold up traffic for an entire workday. 

"It's very tough when you send your commodity with a truck to dump, and they have to spend 10 hours over there when you need this truck back very quickly. Because not only does it bring your product from the farm being harvested in the grain bins, but from the grain bins to the port,"
Barret Olivier of owner and operator of Olivier Farms.

A big concern for farmers here in Acadiana, feral hogs, whose population keeps increasing.

"The fact that we have more and more sportsmen wanting to protect them, but that becomes an issue you as the farmers losing their crop to the populations growing so rapidly. And, when we have that kinda crop destruction, it's money lost," 
stresses LSU/ St. Landry County Ag Agent Vince Deshotel. 

This was the last stop for the governor and Ag Commissioner. Now the two are headed back to Baton Rouge and figuring out what can be done to help farmers stay afloat.  

They will use the information they learn to lobby federal and state lawmakers when agricultural bills come up for a vote.

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