Mark Carriere

Mark Carriere, center, LSU AgCenter agent in Pointe Coupee Parish, was honored with the Achievement Award from the Louisiana County Agricultural Agents Association at its annual convention. Also pictured are association president Blair Hebert, left, and Boyd Padgett, LSU AgCenter plant pathologist and state soybean specialist. (Photo by Bruce Schultz/LSU AgCenter)

The 2019 legislative session appears to be ending favorably for the LSU AgCenter, the LSU vice president for agriculture told Louisiana County Agricultural Agents Association at their annual meeting on June 4.

“They’re not taking anything away,” Bill Richardson said, adding that the legislative session has included an increase in funding for the AgCenter.

The good budget news means the AgCenter can start hiring to fill critical positions across the state, Richardson said. More expertise is needed to help farmers with agricultural technology, and the AgCenter is negotiating with an individual to fill a key position in that field.

Richardson has no plans to close any parish extension offices or research stations.

Within 30 days, therapeutic oils should be available to pharmacies from marijuana cultivation produced by a private company under a contract with the AgCenter. Richardson said it’s projected the AgCenter won’t receive any revenue from the venture until late 2020.

The medical community is most interested in the product for its capability to stimulate appetite in cancer patients and for seizure control, he said.

A proposal to make AgCenter property south of Baton Rouge available for an environmental mitigation bank will go before the LSU Board of Supervisors on June 28. The income would be used to generate a funding stream for AgCenter research projects, Richardson said.

He also told agents that an internal search will be done to replace Rogers Leonard, LSU AgCenter associate vice president for agriculture and natural resources, who is retiring. A job description should be completed soon.

Several educational sessions and on-farm field demonstrations were included in the program for the agricultural and natural resource agents during their annual convention.

The LCAAA also recognized two individuals at an award ceremony.

Mark Carriere, agent in Pointe Coupee Parish, received the Achievement Award given to an outstanding agent with less than 10 years on the job. His primary assignment is working with farmers with row crops, but he also has worked with the AgCenter 4-H program.

Andre Brock received the Distinguished Service Award given to an outstanding agent with more than 10 years experience. He works with horticulture in St. James, St. John the Baptist and St. Charles parish and with the River Region Master Gardeners. He also started a Master Gardener program in the Feliciana parishes.

Research and demonstration activities were documented with poster presentations by agents. Poster contest winners were pest management specialist Al Orgeron, first place; entomologist Blake Wilson, second place; and conservation agronomy agent Donna Morgan, third place.

Also at the convention, the association recognized Iberia Parish agent Blair Hebert for his work as president of the association. Louisiana Master Gardener state coordinator Sara Shields is the incoming president.

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