La. governor, agriculture commissioner hold ‘listening session’ with farmers


Louisiana’s governor and agriculture commissioner hit the road Thursday, hearing varied concerns from dozens of farmers in Iberville Parish.

“This is where the dollars begin, right out there in that dirt,” Mike Strain, who leads the state’s Department of Agriculture and Forestry, told the audience at a sugarcane farm in Plaquemine.

“That’s the foundation and the structure of the economy.”

Transportation was among the chief obstacles for farmers in attendance. One resident said aging roads are delaying how they receive their supplies and send their goods.

“From an industry perspective, it’s not like it used to be 40 years ago,” Plaquemine farmer Al Landry said. “We’ve got some challenges.”

Edwards called on Louisiana lawmakers to raise the state’s gas tax, which stands unchanged since 1989, in order to build new roads and bridges.

“We have bridges all over the state of Louisiana that were built by Franklin Delano Roosevelt,” the governor said.

Farmers also voiced concern over the Trump Administration’s tariffs, as exports account for more than $8 billion of Louisiana’s $13 billion agriculture economy.

“As we move forward, we’re hoping we can get this issue with these tariffs resolved before November,” Strain said.

“The price of steel could increase costs by 20 percent or more,” Edwards added, noting his letter to the White House pressing for the tariffs to end. “I just wanted to make sure we brought that to the president’s attention.”

This marks a continuation of the farm-to-farm tour the governor and Strain took last fall. They said they’re open to more such listening sessions.

“Commissioner Strain and I have a great working relationship,” the governor said. “I consider him a friend.”

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