Louisiana’s largest annual gathering of the state’s agriculture community returned to New Orleans Thursday for a four-day centennial celebration after a two-year pandemic hiatus.
More than 1,500 farmers and ranchers are expected to attend the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation’s 100th Annual Meeting, where they’ll craft a strategy to amplify the state’s collective voice for the $13 billion industry.
“It’s going to be great to have all of our grassroots leadership together again,” Louisiana Farm Bureau President Jim Harper said. “We have a lot of catching up to do, not just on the personal side, but on setting policy and preparing for the 2023 Farm Bill.
“Bringing a voice to that debate is vitally important as agriculture is facing record high costs for fuel, fertilizer and all other inputs.”
Louisiana Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain has been a Farm Bureau member for four decades, once serving as St. Tammany Parish Farm Bureau president and as a member of the state Farm Bureau board.
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“We like to call it the biggest family reunion in farming, and this one should be a special celebration,” Strain said of the annual meeting.
But the annual convention is also a platform for politics and farm policy, especially in election years.
“The Farm Bureau Federation is the largest political grassroots organization in the United States,” Strain said. “That’s why so many politicians show up.”
Louisiana Farm Bureau First Vice President Marty Wooldridge, a Caddo Parish cattle rancher, said the centennial celebration illustrates agriculture’s staying power.
“We have 100 years of resiliency fighting for people and the industry,” Wooldridge said. “This is especially important as we set the stage for the 2023 Farm Bill and the protections that are critical to our sustainability and growth.”
Greg Hilburn covers state politics for the USA TODAY Network of Louisiana. Follow him on Twitter @GregHilburn1.