By Allie Doise, Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation
The Special Session is behind us and the state has approved a budget to move into the new fiscal year, which begins on July 1st.
Overall, agriculture fared well in both the special and regular sessions. Joe Mapes, Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation legislative specialist, said this is because of strong ag leaders in the legislature such as Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Francis Thompson, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Clay Schexnayder, sugarcane farmer and State Senator Bret Allain and former House Agriculture Committee Chairman Andy Anders.
“They have helped us educate legislators so that this legislature understands the importance of agriculture and the need for Louisiana agriculture to stay competitive in the world market,” Mapes said.
The state legislature has fully funded higher education for the first time in more than a decade. Included with that is the budget for the LSU AgCenter, which is huge for Louisiana farmers and ranchers. The AgCenter’s budget remains static, meaning they will receive no cuts for the first time in 10 years.
“We will be able to sustain our programs and not have reductions that will hurt the research and the dessemination of information to producers,” Mapes said.
Mapes said it is important for farmers and ranchers to advocate on behalf of their industry.
“You help promote agriculture by staying in touch with these legislators through calls, texts and emails,” Mapes said. “That’s what helps keeps agriculture at the table, because if you're not at the table, you are probably on the menu.”