For the win: Lee touts AgCenter, College of Agriculture successes in spring update

(03/25/24) BATON ROUGE, La. — Speaking from a bustling John M. Parker Agricultural Coliseum during another successful AgMagic, Matt Lee, LSU vice president for agriculture and dean of the College of Agriculture, highlighted many achievements during a virtual statewide spring update March 22.

After inviting AgMagic coordinator Hannah Devall to acknowledge the 7,000 teachers, students and volunteers who participated in this year’s event, Lee spoke about the impact of AgCenter research.

“If you look at our research expenditures per acre, our ranking is about ninth in research expenditures,” Lee said. “If you look at our research expenditures per farm, we're ranked about fifth. And if you look at it per producer, the people that we’re really doing this research and producing innovations to help, it turns out we're ranked third.”

Describing the AgCenter as “punching above our weight,” Lee compared the research achievements favorably to neighboring states and said that expenditures were up over the same period last year, with innovations in precision agriculture leading the charge, including a recent $1 million funding announcement by congresswoman Julia Letlow.

Other financial wins for the AgCenter include:

  • $1 million commitment to support work on state-of-the-art cattle grazing.
  • $1.2 million for an educational and showcase facility at Burden Museum & Gardens.
  • $30,000 to support young people attending camp at the Grant Walker 4-H Educational Center.
  • Scholarship money in a new partnership with Drax Corporation.
  • A $40,000 commitment from Dow toward the Healthy Communities program.
  • Substantial support from farming families in the Bunkie area, including $50,000 from the Bain family.
  • A $100,000 professorship from Ray and Dorothy Young in agricultural sciences.
  • Becoming a top 10 agricultural organization.
  • Increasing research expenditures to $125 million per year.
  • Increasing fundraising to $10 million per year.

Lee added that the AgCenter is also in negotiations for a transformational gift that will support the Hammond Research Station.

Moving on to the topic of accolades received by AgCenter researchers, Lee singled out food scientist James Wise, plant pathologist Boyd Padgett, AgCenter executive associate vice president and director of the Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service Tara Smith, agriculture and natural resources agent Justin Dufour, entomologist Rodrigo Diaz and a Winnfield 4-H cooking team, the Cajun Cuties.

Lee then gave a brief legislative update and spoke on the LSU System’s statewide framework. He said goals for the future include:

  • Becoming a top 10 agricultural organization.
  • Increasing research expenditures to $125 million per year.
  • Increasing fundraising to $10 million per year.

“We are tracking in the right direction, and that is all because of our people,” Lee said, thanking AgCenter and College of Agriculture employees. “We build teams that win, and I tell people every day, if you want to see what winning looks like, come take a look at LSU Agriculture.”

3/25/2024 7:29:00 PM
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