DONALDSONVILLE — The U.S. Agriculture Department has a new home for its services for area farmers at its approximately 4,800-square-foot service center in Donaldsonville that officially opened with a ribbon-cutting on Jan. 8.
“It’s a big, beautiful place. We’re very excited about it,” said Jamie Templet, county executive director with the Farm Service Agency, one of the agencies housed in the new USDA Service Center that serves Ascension, St. James and Assumption parishes.
“I think we’re going to have more effective and efficient services for our producers” with the opening of the new center at 2259 Business Park Blvd., off La. 70, Templet said.
Before its new service center opened in October, the USDA Service Center for Ascension, St. James and Assumption operated for two years out of a double-wide trailer on La. 1 in Donaldsonville while its new home was being built. Prior to that, the center was located in space leased from a Donaldsonville business.
Along with the Farm Service Agency, the USDA Service Center houses the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Lower Delta Soil and Water Conservation District.
The Farm Service Agency provides such programs as farm loans, insurance coverage for uninsurable crops and providing revenue and price loss protection for covered commodities.
The Natural Resources Conservation Service works alongside the Lower Delta Soil and Water Conservation District on soil erosion and water conservation issues for agriculture producers.
Templet said the USDA Service Center works with approximately 100 sugar cane and soybean farmers and cattle producers in the three-parish area it serves.
Laterre Partners, of Thibodaux, developed and is the owner of the USDA Service Center building in Donaldsonville. Charles Picciola, owner of Laterre Partners along with his brother Robert, said their company leases 11 buildings to the federal government, across four states.
Theresa Mathews, a USDA district director who was on hand for the ribbon-cutting last week, said there are more than 20 such service centers in the state.
Of the brand new one in Donaldsonville, Mathews said, “It’s a fresher, cleaner feeling. It gives the producers a place to go where they feel comfortable.”