LA Ag Commissioner Mike Strain

Claiborne Hill Veterinary Hospital

What do Louisiana’s statewide elected officials do when they’re off the clock?  Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain invited me out to Covington, to show me.

“The main building here is over 10,500 square feet now,” Strain said, as he looked fondly at Claiborne Hill Veterinary Hospital.

“How big was it when you started?” I asked.

“15-hundred,” he said, as we walked in the front doors.

“These are the original doors. Just think how many times they have open and closed for healing, over the past 31 years,” he said with a smile, as a parakeet in a cage on the front counter began to chatter at him.

Sue Lincoln

How do you start a whole new industry from the ground up, especially when that industry is medical marijuana? That’s what state Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain has to figure out. His department has to come up with the rules and regulations for producing and processing the marijuana by January.

“We are responsible all the way from the seed to the delivery of the final chemical product,” Strain told the Baton Rouge Press Club Monday.

The Jindal administration unveils its budget proposal today for the next fiscal year. What solutions to the $1.6-billion deficit will be proposed?

“Until we see it, we don’t really know,” says Lafayette Rep. Joel Robideaux.

Even House Speaker Chuck Kleckley admits he has been kept in the dark.

“I know nothing,” Kleckley told us earlier this week. “I don’t know anything more than you know, or what I read in the press.”

The Joint Legislative Budget Committee meets today to vote on the governor’s plan for slicing $103-million from current year spending.

“These mid-year cuts are critical,” House Speaker Chuck Kleckley says of the painful necessity.

Statewide elected officials believe the Jindal administration’s budget ax must have become dull from overuse, since the latest round of proposed cuts are far from even.

“The cuts seem to be disproportionate,” Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne observes.

Louisiana Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain says the mid-year budget cuts proposed last week by the Jindal administration could end up costing you more at the grocery store and elsewhere.

“You know, if we downsize in meat inspection, that means plants will close,” Strain warns. And meat prices will go up.

The Department of Agriculture has been told to cut $2.6-million from its spending between now and June 30, and Strain says that means he will have no choice but to reduce the number of inspectors his department employs.

The House Appropriations Committee began hearings on the budget proposals for each of the state’s departments Monday. Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain is asking for a bit more money this next year, and Representative Henry Burns (R-Haughton) quizzed him about the reasons.