What do you see as the biggest challeges facing the Department of Agriculture?
The biggest challenge facing the Department of Agriculture & Forestry is its current leadership. Bob Odom has been at the Department for 48 years. His method of political bullying and his indictments for public corruption have tarnished not only the dedicated employees of the Department, but Louisiana's image as well. Odom's image has hampered the ability of the Department to encourage new layers of processing and manufacturing of Louisiana-grown crops and stunted economic development.
Ensuring farmers have a strong Federal Farm Bill is the number one priority for the Department of Agriculture and Forestry, and our biggest challenge. There are some leaders at the federal level who would like to end programs that keep our farmers farming and keep food affordable for consumers. I am working tirelessly with other state's agriculture leaders to urge Congress to maintain current programs and strengthen the Farm Bill so the United States remains the world leader in safe, affordable food production.
Making sure the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) stays current on the latest advancements and research in agriculture and forestry is also a big challenge we face. With so many technological advances in the industries, changes occur at a rapid pace. My staff maintains open lines of communication with their peers at the local, state and federal levels and continues dialoguing with those in the industries to ensure the latest knowledge and information is available to our citizens. LDAF staff is also cross-trained and cross-utilized so new ideas are being generated and exchanged between the employees about what is best for the farmers, ranchers, forest landowners and consumers of this state. Keeping up with advancements is a challenge, but it is one LDAF employees embrace and daily succeed in accomplishing.