Special Legislative Session Ends; Ag Takes a Small Cut

By Carey Martin & Don Molino, Voice of Louisiana Agriculture Radio Network

Louisiana Farm Bureau Legislative Specialist Joe Mapes discusses the special session with Senate Finance Committee Vice Chairman Bret Allain.

Louisiana Farm Bureau Legislative Specialist Joe Mapes discusses the special session with Senate Finance Committee Vice Chairman Bret Allain.

The latest special session of the Louisiana Legislature wrapped up Wednesday night as lawmakers agreed on a fix for the 304 million mid-year budget shortfall.

The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry took a 1.2 million cut to help fill the budget deficit, according to State Senator Bret Allain, vice chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

“The Commissioner of Agriculture Mike Strain said he could live with it, seeing the needs in all of the other pieces of the budget,” said Allain.  “I don’t think it will affect any of his vital services, but of course, it will hurt a little bit.”

The fiscal session of the legislature starts April 10th and runs for sixty days.

During his daily report on the Voice of Louisiana Agriculture Radio Network, Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry Dr. Mike Strain pointed out that each lawmaker can have five bills that are non-fiscal.

“If there is something on your mind please let us know,” said Strain. “Now is the time to contact your legislator and I would advise all of you, between now and the beginning of the session, go have a cup of coffee with our legislator.  Make sure they understand what you do and how agriculture affects you and your business.”

Strain also reported more than 500 national, state and local farm organizations have signed a letter urging both the house and senate agriculture committees not to cut the farm bill.

“The actual commodity section is now about 14 to 15% of the farm bill,” said Strain.

A sub-committee of the House Agriculture Committee will hold its first hearing next Tuesday morning to talk about conservation, and that afternoon the sub-committee will take up international markets and development.