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Born and raised on a cattle farm in Covington, Strain is no stranger to rural life in Louisiana. He was very active in FFA and 4-H and remains involved in his family’s cattle business. After graduating Covington High School, Strain’s interest in livestock led him to pursue studies in pre-veterinary medicine at Louisiana State University.
In 1983, Strain earned a Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from LSU and quickly found clients for his new large animal practice through the family cattle operation. A year later Strain married his Veterinary School sweetheart, Susan Searcy, a native of Hot Springs, Ark. Together they opened Claiborne Hill Veterinary Hospital in Covington, where she focuses on a small animal practice and Strain remains involved in hospital management and herd health consulting.
The Strains have two children, Michael and Melissa, and worship at St. Jane de Chantal Catholic Church in Abita Springs.
The values of hard work and service to community instilled in Strain by his parents, Butch and Carolyn, inspired him to become active in civic and professional organizations while maintaining a successful veterinary practice. He served 17 years with the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office Reserves as a Lieutenant in the Special Operations Division and was further involved in his local community as a Commissioner for St. Tammany Parish Fire District 12. Strain was also appointed by the parish government to serve on the Local Emergency Preparedness Planning Committee.
All the while, Strain stayed true to his rural roots and profession through membership in the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation, Louisiana Cattlemen’s Association and the Louisiana Veterinary Medical Association. He served as parish president and state board member for Farm Bureau, a parish officer for LCA and state president for LVMA.
Strain’s passion for improving his state and community didn’t end with his service to these organizations. Called to serve in political office, he felt he could truly make a difference for the people of the North Shore and beyond. In 1999, those he had known for so many years as clients and friends recognized his calling and elected Strain to the office of State Representative in House District 74 with 70 percent of the vote. He ran unopposed to win a second term in 2003.
While in the Louisiana Legislature, Strain served on the Agriculture Committee and chaired the Legislative Rural Caucus, the largest legislative caucus in Louisiana.
Although he spent many hours at the Capitol representing the people of the North Shore, Strain continued to garner recognition for his expertise in veterinary medicine. He was one of three veterinarians from Louisiana chosen to train in a bioterrorism awareness program sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through the Center for Food Security and Public Health at Iowa State University. In 2003, the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine presented Strain the Distinguished Alumni Award. He was also named Legislator of the Year by the St. Tammany Parish Alliance for Good Government.
After two terms in the Legislature, with the backing of family and supporters, Strain announced he would seek the statewide office of Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry in 2007. He ran a campaign based on reform and returning the Department to its core mission – to promote, protect and advance agriculture, forestry, and soil and water resources. The public embraced his platform and Strain easily won a spot in the run-off with a 28-year incumbent. The incumbent withdrew from the run-off and Strain began his transition into office.
Streamlining programs, efficient management of taxpayer’s money and quality public service are top priorities for his administration. Appointed staff salaries were immediately reduced saving the Department a net of $450,000. Construction work performed by Department employees with other job duties was halted along with the policy of using premium-grade fuel in Department vehicles. Policies involving the Department’s fleet of aircraft were redrafted to reflect Strain’s commitment to transparent operation of the state agency.
Strain is committed to ethics and a high level of service to the public. With his appointed staff, he took an Oath of Office and attended a workshop provided by the State Ethics Board. Every member of the appointed staff received a copy of the Government Code of Ethics. Strain also issued a whistleblower proclamation encouraging Department staff to report any act of wrongdoing without fear of retribution.
Strain believes faith in the Department and its ability to provide effective, efficient programs to the farmers, forest landowners and consumers of Louisiana has been restored. He is proud of what has been accomplished and looks forward to what the future holds for Louisiana agriculture and forestry.