The reduction of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry’s operating expenses over the last three years is largely due to ending the department’s involvement in a construction program.

“The LDAF is no longer in the construction business,” said Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M. “Building construction was a drain on the department’s financial resources and not an efficient allocation of LDAF manpower.

“In addition, the implementation of an aggressive safety program cut our risk management costs by 22 percent.”

Strain said he reduced the debt load of the LDAF and the Louisiana Agriculture Finance Authority (LAFA) from $97.7 million to $62.8 million, a decrease of nearly to 36 percent.

Policy changes within the LDAF reduced the overall workforce by more than 300 employees (35 percent), reduced the motor fleet by 410 vehicles, eliminated unnecessary home storage of vehicles and reduced fuel consumption by 42 percent. The aviation fleet was also reduced by 30 percent.

“The LDAF will continue to look for greater cost efficiencies and implement them as needed,” Strain said. “At the same time, we are concentrating on continuing to provide a high level of service to the agricultural and forestry industries in the state.”