[Image: meets rice farmer]
[Image: with group]
KAPLAN, La. – LSU President F. King Alexander visited with Vermilion Parish residents on Jan. 10 to stress his recognition of the importance of agriculture to the statewide economy.
“Agriculture is perhaps the most important component we have at LSU because it gets us into every part of the state,” Alexander said.
He spoke to about 100 people at the Kaplan American Legion Hall, immediately after a meeting held for rice farmers by the LSU AgCenter.
Alexander said LSU reaches into every corner of the state because of the LSU AgCenter with offices in every parish. The AgCenter’s value extends beyond agriculture, and its assets can be used in other areas such as economic development and health care.
He said his family in Kentucky grew tobacco, so he has an understanding of the importance of agriculture.
Johnny Boudreaux, cattleman and rice farmer, asked Alexander about the possibility of getting an equine studies program at LSU.
Alexander agreed such a program is necessary, and Bill Richardson, LSU vice president for agriculture, said an equine curriculum is being considered for the Animal Sciences Department. He also said an instructor is being hired to help with the LSU AgCenter horse programs.
Alexander also said he wants to get an equestrian team at LSU to compete with other NCAA schools, and he is talking to donors about funding that endeavor. “We spent half the drive coming down here talking about that.”
Athletes who participate in equestrian sports are high-caliber students, he said.
Alexander said the coastal studies programs at LSU have been important to southern parishes, but the studies have gained national recognition after Hurricane Sandy hit New York and New Jersey in 2012. “We are in the process of becoming the international hub for all these issues.”