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2019 Agriculture & Forestry Year in Review
December 30, 2019
Baton Rouge, La. (December 30, 2019) – The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) continues to successfully work efficiently while maintaining vital services to the public. While there are many, here is a re-cap of some accomplishments in 2019 from each division in the department:
Agro-Consumer Services (ACS)
The LDAF successfully took over the failed Lakeland Grain Company in Winnsboro, La. and, so far, has reimbursed $10.5 million through the Grain and Cotton Indemnity Fund to farmers who were at risk of major financial loss. The fund was created in 2008 to protect producers from insolvency, bankruptcy or any other type of loss.
In the Weights and Measures Division, inspectors helped remove more than 150 skimming devices at gas pumps throughout the state. The division also participated in training local law enforcement jurisdictions on how to detect and handle this rapidly changing criminal activity.
Animal Health and Food Safety
Livestock Brand Commission enforcement officers made 16 arrests and recovered missing and stolen property valued at more than $440,000.
The LDAF’s emergency Cohabitated Human Pet Sheltering plan was nationally recognized, published and distributed.
The LDAF’s Food Distribution Division provided $6,750,000 worth of fresh fruit and vegetables to schools under the USDA/Department of Defense Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program.
Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (AES)
The Pesticide Division initiated and implemented the Unwanted Pesticide Pick-up Program in Winnsboro, La. The first collection day resulted in 37.6 tons (approximately 75,000 pounds) of unwanted products removed from farms for proper disposal. This is a benefit to the farmer, state and environment. More pick-up locations will be announced in the future.
While the Seed Program continues to conduct seed testing for farmers to grow healthy crops, the division also developed a comprehensive state plan for the production and regulation of industrial hemp. In December 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved Louisiana’s industrial hemp state plan, the first of three states to receive approval under the 2018 Farm Bill. The LDAF is now accepting applications for those pursuing a license to grow, handle, transport or process industrial hemp or hemp seed.
The Office of Forestry continues to keep a watchful eye on the state’s nearly $4 billion timber industry. While it was an exceptionally wet year, forestry firefighters suppressed 439 fires in 2019 and made three arson arrests. Enforcement agents also made 19 additional arrests and recovered more than $305,000 in stolen property.
Management and Finance
The medical marijuana program, under the Office of Management and Finance, approved the operations and distribution of medical marijuana.
Soil and Water (OSWC)
The Office of Soil and Water Conservation continues to work to mitigate and eradicate invasive species such as feral swine which destroy farm land, giant salvinia, an invasive aquatic weed that kills aquatic plants and fish, and Roseau cane scale which destroys the coastal wetlands.
“This is just a snapshot of what this department and its employees do every day for the great state of Louisiana and its citizens,” said Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M. “We will continue to protect the nearly $12 billion agricultural, forestry and aquaculture industries. We look forward to a successful and productive 2020.”