Speaker of the Louisiana House of Representatives Clay Schexnayder (R, District 81) was in Farmerville Friday and spoke to a group of local businessmen at the Marion State Bank board room.
Schexnayder assured the group that both sides of the legislature are working together more than ever and that’s a positive for the future of Louisiana.
“Of course the elephant in the room is tort reform,” Schexnayder said. “We’ve fought that many years in Baton Rouge where we couldn’t even get it out of committees. Now we have it where it will be enacted in January. It’s going to be huge for our state, and our businesses. Especially the logging industry and any kind of commercial trucking. It’s going to be huge on lowering auto insurance rates.”
The timber industry was represented at the meeting by loggers, timber managers and plants.
Mark Preaus, a local forester, and Caskey Terral, a local logger, wanted Schexnayder to know the timber business needs to be classified as farming, like other crops are.
“I’ve been in this business for 44 years and I’ve never seen this industry have a question mark on it like it does now,” Preaus said. “The forestry industry is the No. 1 crop in this state. We don’t have the same disaster relief as other farmers. Trees are a crop. They can’t be harvested annually, but they are still a crop.”
Terral added, “We have 15 million acres in Louisiana of tree land. And we have 8.3 million acres of farm land. We (timber) are considered the No. 1 agricultural crop in the state. We have a $13 billion impact. With all those facts…, I just want to be considered a farmer.”
Schexnayder said that from his perspective the timber industry should be considered farmers.
“I think there’s a lot that we can do on the state side. We can work on that. We can fix that. That’s something, if you look at Baton Rouge right now we’re fighting a hundred years of politics. I think that’s a fair ask. But we’ll need your help to do it.”