For use in local newspapers, week of July 21, 2014:
NEW ORLEANS – The recent Louisiana Farm Bureau convention here attracted farmers and ranchers by the hundreds, but also proved to be a popular stop for Louisiana politicians.
Senator Mary Landrieu (D-La.), running for re-election this year, made a stop at the sugar commodity conference before visiting with other farmers. She told Farm Bureau members at the conference there is still a lot of work to be done in Washington.
“This industry is worth fighting for,” Landrieu said. “We have got to keep the power that we have there to keep our sugar program and all of our good farmer support. But, they do need the government to help and stabilize them sometimes, when there’s crisis or disasters, to keep that going.”
Laura Cassidy, the wife of 6th District Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-Baton Rouge), spoke to Louisiana Farm Bureau members about her husband’s dedication to agriculture. Congressman Cassidy is running against Senator Landrieu in this fall’s election.
Rep. Vance McAllister, (R-Swartz) attended the convention and announced the day after it ended he would run for re-election for his 5th District seat. McAllister had previously said that he would not seek another term in office shortly after video surfaced of the congressman kissing one of his married staffers.
Congressman McAllister says he wants to stay in office because he says he has been an effective voice for his constituents and for Louisiana agriculture in Washington.
“It don’t matter whether you’re running or you’re not running, when you’re talking to other members of Congress, if the story that you’re telling is true and real and it has justice and meat to it, then it works,” McAllister said. “I mean, we all got to support our farmers and take care of them and you just got to be able to relay that message and let them know how vital it is.”
Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry Dr. Mike Strain, who made it a point to attend every commodity conference, said Louisiana’s export business was “on fire.”
“(U.S. Agriculture Secretary) Tom Vilsack tells us to expect the volume of ag exports to increase 30 percent over the next two years,” Strain said. “Louisiana’s total ag value was $11.8 billion last year, double what it was seven years ago.”
U. S. Senator David Vitter (R-La.) also spoke to voting delegates at the convention. While he’s not up for re-election, Vitter has announced his plans to run for Governor of Louisiana.