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Anders returns from Canada visit, hopes to share agricultural lessons

VIDALIA — The fields of Louisiana are what attracted Rep. Andy Anders to Vancouver, Canada, last week.

Anders, D-Vidalia, and Sen. Francis Thompson, D-Delhi, made the trip to find solutions for local problems as a part of the 12th annual State Legislative Agriculture Chairs Summit.

The conference included workshops on health care, farm bill reform and economic development, among others. Legislators from 46 states and seven Canadian provinces attended.

Anders said the State Agriculture and Rural Leaders Association — a group of legislators from rural areas of the U.S. — paid for the trip. More than 60 private companies partnered with the association to fund the conference.

Though attending the conference may not directly improve his district, Anders said conversations with other legislators result in ideas for new initiatives.

“It’s good to travel to other places to see that the same issues exist there,” Anders said. “It is also a rare opportunity to focus attention on the largest industry in our state, our most important economic driver, agriculture.”

Specifically, Anders said he wants to push for better funding of LSU’s AgCenter.

“It’s not good that the LSU AgCenter has seen reduced funding,” he said. “It’s an important resource, especially for our area. Because everyone there represented rural areas, we also talked about recruiting doctors.”

Anders said recruiting doctors to rural areas is especially difficult because larger cities offer better salaries.