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LDAF “rolling billboard” promotes fresh Louisiana produce choices

October 19, 2011

vspace=5In Louisiana, you can’t have a parade without throwing Mardi Gras beads, doubloons or other trinkets to the crowd from your float, but the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) broke with tradition at the Washington Parish Free Fair parade Oct. 19
Instead of beads, riders on the LDAF Specialty Crop Program float handed out fresh Louisiana satsumas.
The float is a “rolling billboard” advertising Louisiana’s fresh produce and the Louisiana Grown website ( where viewers can find producer information, farmers markets, recipes and more.
The Washington Parish Fair is just the first stop. The rolling billboard will travel to local fairs and festivals throughout the state and reach consumers with the message to buy Louisiana grown produce and to add more fresh fruits and vegetables to their diet. 
“It’s all part of promoting our Louisiana farmers and their fresh produce,” Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain said. “We think it’s a great way to communicate with consumers and encourage them to support their farming neighbor while supporting their own health.”
Louisiana citrus is one of the crops that the specialty crop program promotes.
The LDAF was recently awarded more than $340,000 for research, educational and marketing projects to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops in Louisiana. 
Strain said the funding came from a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) that awarded 55 grants to fund 740 initiatives across the United States and its territories. The grants will help strengthen the market for specialty crops like fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture.
The "rolling billboard" project was funded by a prior year grant. The recently awarded 2011 Louisiana grant recipients are as follows:
·                    LSU AgCenter will develop a media campaign to increase "Louisiana Super Plants" logo recognition and expand it into all markets in Louisiana
·                    1stCo Inc. Video Productions will develop and produce a TV series to educate consumers on the types of specialty crops available in Louisiana and demonstrate new and delicious ways to prepare them.
·           will introduce underserved children living in urban areas to Louisiana specialty crops via educational field trips to the Crescent City Farmers Market with a specific focus on strawberries and citrus.
·                    LSU AgCenter will evaluate disease and insect resistance, yield and time to market for the increasing number of vegetable and fruit varieties available for production in local markets and educate local growers on results.