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Commissioner Strain visits Morganza

March 27, 2008

Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M., visited farmers in the Morganza Spillway area Wednesday evening to offer support for their efforts to fortify the levee with supersized sandbags.

“The farm community has really pulled together to protect their land and livelihood from rising river levels. I commend their willingness to get the job done and their commitment to one another,” Strain said. “Farmers, students out of school for spring break, the National Guard and others are racing against the clock to finish raising the levee level. More than 1,000 acres of wheat face ruin if the waters come over the levee toward the spillway gates.”

In addition to wheat, farmers usually plant cotton, soybeans and other crops on the nearly 5,000 acres threatened with flooding.

“If water comes over the levee and is trapped in front of the spillway gates, it could take several months to completely drain out,” Strain explained. “That eliminates any opportunity for the farmers to plant crops this year. It essentially puts them out of business or takes them out of production on this land.”

While in Morganza, Strain commended Gov. Bobby Jindal for sending the National Guard to assist farmers.

“Without the Guard’s help, the farmers couldn’t have completed the job in time to beat the rising river,” Strain said. “Everyone involved should be praised for their hard work and tenacity.”

Strain’s stop in Morganza capped a day spent traveling to Mandeville for a meeting of the Louisiana Urban Forestry Council and back to Baton Rouge for the Louisiana Ag Sciences Association.

“I’m getting out of the office as much as possible to talk to constituents and continue listening to what they need and expect from the Department of Agriculture and Forestry,” Strain said. “It’s been an exciting first two and a half months in office and I’m looking forward to the future.”