Strain: La. agriculture facing future changes
Breaux Bridge — Louisiana Agricultural Commissioner Mike Strain spoke highly of conservation efforts of producers in the state as he touched upon the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry‘s (LDAF) involvement in the dynamics of U.S. agriculture.
The St. Martin Parish Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) hosted the annual Area IV SWCD March 11 where Strain, among other guest speakers addressed producers and industry professionals from across South Louisiana.
The Area IV SWCD consists of St. Martin, Lafayette, Iberia, St. Mary, Terrebonne, LaFourche, Cameron, Acadia, Vermilion, St. Landry, Evangeline and Jefferson Davis Parishes.
“Our mission is to promote, to protect and to advance agriculture and forestry and soil and water conservation,” Strain said of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry,” Strain said. “We are in a mode of change. The department is, the state government is, the state of Louisiana is and the nation.
“The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry and Soil and Water Conservation is one of the largest of its kind in the United States,” Strain said. “Decisions that we make, you and I together, have great impact on our communities. We’re gonna harness that to have a very positive effect.”
Strain related the current situation of LDAF’s budget with the group. He said it is “unacceptable.” The department’s current budget is $97 million, but Strain said state administration has cut funding by $10 million. The majority of the budget decrease came from two areas: the boll weevil eradication and LDAF equipment acquisition programs.
He said he has met with state legislators to procure funding and recapture budget losses for his department.
“A 10 percent budget cut is too much. The budget of this department has remained fairly stagnant for 10 years.”
Touching upon one concern of not only farmers but consumers across the nation as well, Strain mentioned the price of diesel, approaching four dollars per gallon, will make farming methods, agricultural research, and technology dynamic.
“This creates pressure on the development of new technologies in synthetic fuels. We are moving into an area of continual supply of renewable energy.”
The national goal for renewable fuel production is 36 billion gallons of by 2022. Of that total, 15 billion gallons will be produced from sucrose, the remainder will be produced from cellulose. This seems advantageous for producers because both sucrose and cellulose can be derived from corn and sugarcane crops.
In 18 months, Strain said, U.S. production of renewable fuels will reach 13.6 billion gallons.