Mike Strain

What do Louisiana’s statewide elected officials do when they’re off the clock?  Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain invited me out to Covington, to show me.

“The main building here is over 10,500 square feet now,” Strain said, as he looked fondly at Claiborne Hill Veterinary Hospital.

“How big was it when you started?” I asked.

“15-hundred,” he said, as we walked in the front doors.

“These are the original doors. Just think how many times they have open and closed for healing, over the past 31 years,” he said with a smile, as a parakeet in a cage on the front counter began to chatter at him.

Louisiana's agriculture commissioner says any horse coming into Louisiana from Illinois must have a health certificate showing that it has not been at Hawthorne Race Course in the past 30 days because nearly 70 horses there have tested positive for a very contagious and potentially lethal virus.

The Department of Agriculture and Forestry quotes Stanley Seeling, president of the Louisiana Horseman's Benevolent and Protective Association, as saying horses typically travel from Hawthorne Race Course to Louisiana for the winter races.

Louisiana Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain says the U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated 11 north Louisiana parishes as disaster areas because of drought.

He says he was notified Wednesday that four — Morehouse, Richland, Union and West Carroll — are primary natural disaster areas. The other seven — Caldwell, Claiborne, East Carroll, Franklin, Lincoln, Madison and Ouachita — were named because they're are adjacent to the primary disaster area.

Livestock exhibits are a popular part of farm country fairs, but they're coming with a warning this year: Don't pet the pigs. And wash your hands well after exhibiting swine.

Louisiana Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain is relaying word from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It says human cases of swine flu rose last week from 29 to 158. Most of the patients were children who probably were infected while raising, displaying or visiting pigs at the fairs.

The CDC says the H3N2v virus may spread more easily to humans than is usual for swine flu viruses.