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Mar 3, 2011 11:37 PM by Shawn Kline

Proposed Federal Cuts could gouge Louisiana

Congress is proposing billions of dollars in cuts to just about every facet of government spending, but the LSU AgCenter argues some of those cuts could cripple local industries like farming.
So, the question is, where to cut back? And by how much?

Blair Hebert is one of many LSU AgCenter field agents. Field agents help farmers develop new techniques, making the business of farming more efficient.

"If there's no one for these farmers to turn to to provide them with that unbiased available knowledge, it could affect their bottom lines tremendously," Hebert said.

"How we plant and what we put at planting time," sugar cane farmer, Ronnie Gonsoulin says, "all those things improve our efficiency."

Gonsoulin has farmed sugar cane for more than 30-years and he says field agents like Hebert play a major role in developing his crops.
Now, the AgCenter could take a hit if federal budget cuts sink in.

"I'm looking at everything." Congressman Jeff Landry says, "I'm looking at it from a business perspective- whether we can do more with less and still provide people with the service they deserve."

"We've reduced the fat!" Hebert said. "One person is now doing the job of what used to be six people." Hebert says, "if we have to, we'll reduce some more but that means we'll have to reduce programs and positions."
If federal cuts force more AgCenter layoffs, Gonsoulin says that will affect his yield in the field.

"It will decrease our efficiency on the farm," he said.

The AgCenter could be looking at multi-million dollar mid-year cuts from funds they've been getting from the Smith and Lever Act since 1914.
That's just on a federal level. State officials have said they'll be streamlining as well.

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