USDA Hosts Field Tour in CenLa - KALB-TV News Channel 5 & CBS 2

USDA Hosts Field Tour in CenLa

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ALEXANDRIA, LA.- When you think of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, you may be more likely to think of them as the people responsible for inspecting your meat before it makes it to the grocery store, but it's actually a group that affects our lives in many ways.

"We are involved in every element of human life, from producing food to building houses to protecting the environment, protecting water, land and human resources."

In honor of the 150th birthday of the department, the office here in CenLa wanted to highlight everything they do for the community.

"This is an opportunity for all the USDA agencies and affiliates to do a show and tell. We're targeting the congressional delegations, congress people and their staffs to make them aware of what the USDA does for the citizens of Louisiana," says Clarence Hawkins, State Director of Rural Development.

First up on the tour we hopped on a hay ride and explored the LSU AgCenter...which is funded largely by the USDA--right now, the AgCenter is going through some tough times.

"We've received some major cuts at state funding in the last three years because of budget reductions through the state funding," says Dr. Ronnie Levy of the LSU AgCenter.

But they're still growing strong with their research on plants like corn and beans that we eat almost everyday!

The next stop on the tour was the farm of cattle rancher Tommy Caillier...who had a dream.

"I had a dream that one day I was going to buy 10 or 20 acres and have 4 or 5 cows and do this," he says.

And he was able to make this lifelong dream a reality by joining in on a program of the National Resource Conservation Service, another USDA agency, that taught him about farming and provided the money he needed.

"I got into it really for, I like animals and I wanted to do this, but I needed it to pay for itself also," says Caillier.

The presence in Rapides Parish of the USDA is loud and clear. The organization and it's many agencies are always putting the taxpayer dollars to work...for farms, for forests, and for families.

Stops were also made at the Woodworth Town Hall, Kisatchie National Forest, and the Woodworth Outdoor Education Center....all areas that receive some type of assistance from the USDA. The tour also stopped for a delicious lunch sponsored by the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

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