Linda Benedict | 4/21/2006 10:46:19 PM
News Release Distributed 04/21/06
The LSU AgCenter received approval from the LSU Board of Supervisors today (April 21) to move ahead with part of its exigency plan to reduce costs. This first step involves merging two academic departments and closing one of its three dairies.
"We anticipate that these savings will allow us to add positions in higher priority areas," said LSU AgCenter Chancellor Bill Richardson.
As of July 1, 2006, the LSU AgCenter’s Department of Dairy Science will be merged into its School of Animal Sciences, which will be the new name for the Department of Animal Sciences.
"Over the past 20 years, we have seen a steady decline in the number of dairies in Louisiana," Richardson said. "We’ve lost, on average, 5 percent to 10 percent every year. We’re now down to about 250."
The LSU AgCenter will close a 230-head dairy farm at its Hill Farm Research Station near Homer, which is in the northern part of Louisiana near the Arkansas border. The dairy will close when the cows are sold, which should be early to mid-fall, said Allen Nipper, director of the LSU AgCenter’s North Central Region.
What remains of Louisiana’s dairy industry, which contributed nearly $200 million to the Louisiana economy in 2005, is concentrated in the southeastern part of the state. The LSU AgCenter will maintain its state-of-the-art dairy research farm in that region near Franklinton.
The LSU AgCenter also maintains a dairy research unit on its Central Research Station in Baton Rouge.
"This is the first step in our restructuring process," Richardson said. "Others will be forthcoming."
The LSU AgCenter was permitted to declare a state of financial exigency at the February meeting of the LSU Board of Supervisors. This status lifts some of the restrictions for eliminating personnel. Exigency status is necessary to better align the AgCenter’s mission with its ever-decreasing resources until new revenue streams can be found, Richardson said.
The department merger and dairy closing will eliminate about nine positions. Richardson hopes to add five new positions in higher priority areas – water quality, poultry and forestry research and extension.
"The poultry industry is our largest animal industry," Richardson said. "Most of it is concentrated in the northern part of the state. We need more research and extension in this area."
The same is true with the forestry industry, which is Louisiana’s largest agricultural industry and contributed more than $4.55 billion to the state’s economy in 2005.
"The citizens in the northern part of the state tell us they want more research and extension support in forestry," Richardson said. "We hope to expand forestry research and outreach at the Hill Farm Research Station."
Even though the LSU AgCenter – through its extension and research programs – shares 13 academic departments with the College of Agriculture on the LSU A&M campus, the LSU AgCenter receives no revenue from tuition.
"This is one of the biggest misconceptions about the LSU AgCenter," Richardson said. "We do not benefit from tuition and student fee increases."
Bill Richardson at (225) 578-4161 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Allen Nipper at (318) 644-2662 or email@example.com
Paul Coreil at (225) 578-6083 or firstname.lastname@example.org
David Boethel at (225) 578-4181 or email@example.com
Linda Benedict at (225) 578-2937 or firstname.lastname@example.org