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Rep. Anders attends national ag summit

VIDALIA — District 21 Rep. Andy Anders recently returned from the 10th Annual State Legislative Agriculture Chairs Summit in Phoenix where he spoke with agricultural leaders from all over North America about issues facing rural communities.

“The summit is an amazing opportunity; the sessions and speakers were great, but even more important was the opportunity to just spend time talking to others who represent rural areas and share the same issues we face,” Anders said.

Anders said agricultural leadership from 46 states and seven Canadian provinces gathered to identify issues facing rural communities.

“Rural communities and agriculture industries are facing many challenges today,” he said. “And this program has provided me with some unique ways to address some of the challenges. ”

Anders said general sessions at the conference focused on agriculture business, jobs and economic development in rural communities.

Due to high unemployment and underemployment rates,

Anders said job creation and retention was a top priority for all policy makers in attendance.

Anders said he also participated in discussion on economic gardening, a way to grow existing businesses in communities and that all of the discussions he attended provided a fresh look at current problems in the area.

“Learning from other rural policy makers, about what works and more importantly what might not work helps me to do my job more effectively and efficiently,” he said.

Anders said one project presented by the USDA called State Exchange that could help the state and it’s residents in a large way.

“It will link states together to identify opportunities to improve efficiencies and cut costs in our food and benefit programs,” he said.

Anders also toured Shamrock Farms Dairy and Queens Creek Olive Mill.

Anders said the dairy farm provided insights on how a high production farm can provide educational programs to the public and the visit to the mill provided a great example of successful agritourism.

“Keeping abreast of trends in agriculture policy is essential,” Anders said. “It is important to understand these challenges from all viewpoints to best represent Louisiana.”

Anders said the 2012 summit will be in Washington, D.C., and will focus on the 2012 farm bill reauthorization.

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