Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry Bob Odom is making it clear that he will stand firm against any proposal to tax water usage by farmers.

"I will not stand idly by while a tax is being discussed on that commodity," he says. "My farmers are struggling to make ends meet as it is, so I will fight to the bitter end to keep any proposed tax on water usage from becoming a reality."

Odom's statement at a recent meeting with farmers in Opelousas, La., was made in response to proposals in the Louisiana state legislature to enact a water usage tax. Such a tax, Odom says, would greatly increase the production costs of farmers who irrigate their crops. "These higher costs would ultimately affect consumers at the supermarket. And, any tax on water usage would be passed on to consumers through higher utility costs," Odom says.

"If you want to see the cost of utilities increase even more, then put a tax on water usage. Consumers are already facing electricity and gas bills twice as high as last year, and now some people want to talk about taxing water usage. Don't think those taxes won't be passed on to consumers."

Instead of a tax on water usage, Odom wants to continue his work with the Governor's Water Policy Advisory Task Force in using proven scientific facts to insure this "most valuable resource" is managed properly. Then, using these scientific findings, Odom would like see a water policy developed for Louisiana.

"We need to gather top scientists and other concerned individuals from around the state to study the issue and form an effective water policy. The only policy that I will support is one that is based on sound science, not political motives or other agendas," he says. "We need to know what we want to achieve with regulations before we start regulating.