The Senate Committee on Finance this week approved District 22 State Senator Fred Mills' legislation aimed a building stronger ties between the producers of agricultural products in Louisiana with the state's restaurant owners.

Senate Bill 81 allows for the creation of the Louisiana Buy Local Purchase Incentive Program. It would give money to Louisiana restaurant who are buying locally grown products. Senator Mills says the purpose of the bill is to get more consumers and restaurant buyers to purchase Louisiana products, hopefully giving Louisiana companies an edge in the market place. The press release goes on to state, " Louisiana has some of the most abundant and valuable agricultural products in the world," said Sen. Mills "We cannot allow incidents such as the oil spill to put a damper on business. This program would provide an incentive for restaurants to use Louisiana products and would thereby create a business relationship between farmers, distributors and restaurant owners, encouraging the consumption of home-grown goods."

SB 81 creates the Louisiana Buy Local Purchase Incentive Program within the Department of Agriculture and Forestry. The bill creates a special fund to be managed by the Louisiana Agricultural Finance Authority which will be comprised of public or private grants, gifts or donations. No state general funds will be appropriated to the program. Participating restaurants will receive a 4 percent rebate on their total purchases of Louisiana agricultural products to be prorated dependent upon the amount of money in the fund at the end of the year. Sen. Mills worked with the Louisiana Restaurant Association and Dr. Mike Strain, Commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry to develop this piece of legislation."

SB 81 is now moving to the full senate for approval.