Agriculture inspectors across Louisiana are urging Gov.
John Bel Edwards to sign a bill into law that would require all agricultural and forestry facilities in the state to conserve water.
The legislation, SB639, was signed into law by the governor in the House earlier this month.
According to Louisiana Farm Bureau President John Dillard, it is the first farm bill signed into the state legislature that requires an inspection of farms to enforce water conservation measures.
He said the new bill is an important step toward protecting the environment and improving public health, and is part of a broader effort to protect farmworkers, farmers and businesses from the environmental impacts of climate change.
“I think the farm bill is very important, because it establishes what the governor can do, the laws that he can pass,” Dillard said.
“It gives him a set of legal powers that he doesn’t have now, but it also gives him the ability to enforce those laws, to be responsible, to do whatever he wants.”
The bill, which is currently being considered by the state Senate, would require a new inspection for all agricultural or forestry facilities.
Currently, there is no statewide requirement to perform a water conservation audit.
Under the proposed legislation, the Department of Agriculture would have to issue a written statement to the public detailing its compliance with the state’s mandatory water management requirements.
Dillard told News24 that there are no guarantees that the department would do so.
The department is currently tasked with collecting water quality data for the state, which requires the department to collect water from all sources, including wells and springs, to determine whether a water quality issue exists.
Dillard said the department does not currently collect any data on the type of water management required by the bill, but that it will begin collecting such data this spring.
He noted that some water conservation requirements, such as keeping water off of land, can be enforced through a variety of legal mechanisms, including a permit.
However, the department is not currently required to follow the mandatory water quality inspection requirement for its wells.
Under the bill’s requirements, all wells must be inspected to determine compliance.
In addition to a water management inspection, inspectors are also required to assess the health and safety of the water supply to determine if the water is safe to drink.
The bill would also require a report from the department on the health effects of water from wells and wells and pipelines.
The department is also tasked with developing guidelines for water management that would allow the agency to determine what steps it would take to prevent or mitigate the impacts of a water issue.
The bill would make it a crime for a person to knowingly fail to comply with the mandatory conservation requirements of the bill.