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Ag chief to borrow $7M to take control of mill

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BATON ROUGE - Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain will borrow $7 million to take control of a defunct sugar cane mill in southwest Louisiana that was built with state tax dollars and only operational for 90 days.

Strain received approval Thursday from the Bond Commission to borrow the money through a bond sale and repay it over 10 years.

The mill is teetering on default of its debt payments. Strain says if the state doesn't buy out the mill, a bank would take over the property and the agriculture department wouldn't be able to sell it or lease it to recoup some of its investment.

Strain said his department has spent $78 million to build and maintain the Lacassine mill constructed under his predecessor, Bob Odom. It was appraised for less than $7 million.

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