Swamp Pawn star testifies in Senate

With television cameras in tow, Rick Phillips, the star of the reality television show “Swamp Pawn,” appeared Monday before the state Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs committee in support of legislation that would give an income tax credit for beginning farmers and commercial fishermen.

The show takes place around Bayou Pigeon and centers on Phillips Seafood Company, which buys and sells crawfish, alligators, frogs and turtles from a colorful variety of people.

Phillips said farming and fishing is becoming harder and harder with growing costs and foreign imports. “Most discouraging, I’m not seeing in young kids going into commercial fishing,” Phillips said.

His testimony could be shown on the television program that is shown on the CMT Network.

The “Beginning Farmer and Fisherman Income Tax Credit Program” would provide a non-refundable income tax credit for five years. Agriculture Secretary Mike Strain said the aim of the bill is to attract and help a new generation go into farming and fishing.

“Our older farmers are getting older and the younger farmers are looking at the burdens,” testified Brandon Gravois, fourth generation St. James Parish sugar cane farmer who recently graduated LSU. Younger farmers are going to other jobs that are not as strenuous or as stressful, he said.

The committee will vote later on Senate Bill 211, sponsored by state Rep. Gerald Long, R-Winnfield.