The Bastrop-Morehouse Chamber of Commerce is “Saluting Agriculture in Morehouse Parish” this year at the Chamber’s Annual Banquet. The banquet will be held February 15 at 6:30 p.m. at the Bastrop Municipal Center. Guest speaker will be Louisiana Agriculture Commissioner, Dr. Mike Strain. The sponsors for this year’s banquet are the City of Bastrop, Cypress Grove Behavioral System, Rick Duplissey, CPA, Northeast Tel, Origin Bank and Simmons Sporting Goods.

In addition to the guest speaker, the Chamber will also present its annual community awards.

Dr. Mike Strain was sworn into office as Commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry in January, 2008. He was reelected in 2011.

Born and raised on a cattle farm in Covington, Dr. Strain is no stranger to rural life in Louisiana. After graduating high school, his interest in livestock led him to pursue studies in pre-veterinary medicine at LSU. In 1983 he earned his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine and quickly found clients for his new large animal practice through the family cattle operation. Dr. Strain is married to Susan Strain, a veterinarian also and together they own Claiborne Hill Veterinary Hospital in Covington.

While maintaining a successful veterinary practice, Dr. Strain was active in civic and professional organizations by serving 17 years with the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office Reserves as a Lieutenant in the Special Operations Division and also serving as a commissioner for St. Tammany Parish Fire District 12. He also was appointed to serve on the Local Emergency Preparedness Planning Committee. Staying true to his rural roots and profession, Dr. Strain served as parish president for Farm Bureau, parish officer for Louisiana Cattlemen’s Association and state president for Louisiana Veterinary Medical Association.

In 1999 Dr. Stain was elected as State Representative for his district with 70% of the vote and he ran unopposed to win a second term in 2003. While serving in the Louisiana Legislature, Dr. Strain served on the Agriculture Committee and chaired the Legislative Rural Caucus.

After two terms in the Legislature, Dr. Strain announced he would seek the statewide office of Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry in 2007. The public embraced his platform and he easily won a spot in the run-off with a 28 year incumbent. The incumbent withdrew from the run-off and Dr. Strain began his transition into office.

Streamlining programs, efficient management of taxpayer’s money and quality public service has been top priorities for Dr. Strain’s administration. He believes faith in the department to provide effective and efficient programs has been restored.

With agriculture being the top industry in Morehouse Parish, the Chamber is honored to have Commissioner Strain as our guest speaker and we are proud to salute our farmers in our parish stated Dorothy Ford, Executive Director of the Chamber.

Tickets are on sale now to attend the banquet. The price is $25 for each ticket or $200 for a reserved table of eight. The public is invited to attend, but must have a purchased a ticket prior to the event. The deadline for purchasing tickets is Friday, February 9. Etc. Catering will be the caterer for the evening.