BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana's top agriculture official is concerned about the loss of farmland in the state.

Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain said Monday that 15,000 acres of farmland in Calcasieu and St. Charles parishes have been lost in the last year to wetlands mitigation projects.

In St. Charles Parish, landowners were paid to turn farmland over to expand levee protection. In Calcasieu Parish, Strain said the landowners were paid to convert farmland into wetlands by industrial construction projects that are required to enhance or restore wetlands as a trade-off when their plants will have an environmental impact.

Strain says he's talking to federal officials about ways to encourage sustainable farmland preservation when considering mitigation projects. He says the country needs to keep its agricultural lands intact to meet the future projected food demand.

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