Agriculture: More Than Sows, Cows, & Plows

By: Kristen Oaks

       For former student body president Colorado Robertson, feeding cows goes hand in hand with checking his blackberry.

      “Agriculture is a way of life for me, it’s how I grew up on a dairy farm in St. Helena and it’s evolved into my education,” Robertson said.

     But the College of Agriculture may soon experience drastic changes.

      The proposed university realignment will relocate 6 non-traditional agriculture majors such as fashion and leadership development into other academic colleges.  As a result, college will lose over 400 students.

      Current student body president Stuart Watkins is also a College of Ag major and says the realignment has both pros and cons. 

     “We’re told that because of our quest to the flagship agenda, our degrees will be worth a whole lot more and therefore that’s definitely going to benefit every student,” Watkins said.

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HOPE for the Hungry

By:  Kristen Oaks

      Every Wednesday, you can find Dianne Clark volunteering to help shop.

     “We heard about it at church. They were saying- they needed help, “ Clark said.

      Clark and other volunteers give their time each week to the HOPE Ministries Program that assists the area’s most deprived citizens.

      Located in north Baton Rouge where 95% of the resident’s are at or below the federal poverty line, HOPE focuses on families who are at risk for becoming homeless and helps them become independent and self-sufficient.

     HOPE is acronym for Helping Other People Excell.

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HOPE Ministries Timeline

Doors of HOPE
  • 2008- The Client Choice Food Pantry began to reach over 100 families each week. 
  • 2006- Hope was awarded the Louisiana Standards for Excellence Certification 
  • 2004- Hope was awarded the Community Partnership Award from Capitol Area United Way
  • 2003- Client Choice Food Pantry was created- clients can shop in a store like setting and select their own goods
  • June 2003-  HOPE Ministries was established

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Pilgrim’s Pride Idles Farmerville Plant

By:  Kristen Oaks

       FARMERVILLE, LA– In terms of an economic disaster, this is a category five. 

       Farmerville Mayor, Stein Baughman, said the idling of Pilgrim’s Pride Processing Plant will have “catastrophic impact: it’s our Katrina, It’s our ground zero.” 

       Baughman said the entire area will be affected by the closure. 

      “This is a two billion dollar business in the state,” Baughman said.  “There will be a trickle down affect- my goodness, our schools will be affected, our sheriff’s dept., and everyone they pay taxes to.”

       The plant employs over 1,300 workers, and over 300 independent contract growers depend on the plant and hatchery.  Unlike the plant employees, the growers have no unemployment benefits or compensation available to them.

       After selling his last flock of chickens, grower Kirk Townsend is officially out of the business.

    “When we sold out Tuesday night, when the last chicken went out of the house reality set in- this is it,” Townsend said.  “I’ve got to find a job, this is my only source of income.  And I’ve lost it now.  I’ve got one check coming, and that’s the end of the road for me.”

      Area growers are left with few options.  Most rely solely on the poultry industry for their income and have invested thousands, some millions, of dollars in their farms. 

      “We put out our money in a good faith agreement with this company to build these houses with the idea that they were going to keep them going,”  grower Stephen Wade said.  “We had contracts, but once you build you have no say in your contacts at all; your at their mercy at all times.  It just doesn’t seem fair.” 

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Pilgrim’s Pride Photo Journal

Pilgrim's Pride Headquarters   Pligrim's CEO   300px-broilers1  Farmerville Plant

Farmerville Mayor   bilde-2   Grower's Meeting   bilde-4  

Grower's Meeting   Russell Wade   Meeting

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Pilgrim’s Pride Timeline

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Monday, March 16:  State asks Foster Farms to increase offer.  Read more.              

Sunday, March 15:  Pilgrim’s Pride CEO responds.  Read more.

Saturday, March 14: Pilgrim’s Pride rejects $60 million offer from state, makes $80 million counter offer.   Read more.

Friday, March 13: Farmer’s continue to focus on co-op plan.  Read more.

Thursday, March 12:  Jindal ups the ante.  Read more. 

Wednesday, March 11:  Pilgrim’s Pride rejects offer.  Read more.

Tuesday, March 10: California poultry operation makes offer on closed Farmerville plant.  Read more.

Monday, March 9:  Landrieu announces more than $43 million in employment and training dollars for Louisiana.  Read more  

Friday, March 6:  Task force forms to try to find buyer for Pilgrim’s Pride Plant.  Read more

Monday, March 2: Governor Bobby Jindal meets with Pilgrim’s Pride Representatives and Farmerville Officials to outline State support.  Read more.

Friday, February 27: Pilgrim’s Pride announces plans to idle processing plants in Farmerville, LA; El Dorado, AR;  and Douglas, GA.  Read more.

Monday, December 1, 2008: Pilgrim’s Pride files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy.  Read more.

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Homemade Hair

By: Kristen Oaks

Sarah Romero has taken her hair color into her own hands.

“Because I’m broke,” Romero says.

A tight budget is keeping Romero from visiting the salon for her usual monthly highlights.

“It’s way cheaper just to go buy it at Wal-Mart and do it myself.”  Romero said.

Cutting back on hair luxuries is a recent trend salons have noticed during the recession. 

Lockworks salon coordinator Jessica Colon said that their business  has noticed a drastic change over the last year.

“People are definitely reevaluating where their money is going and asking a lot more questions about things, like what’s included in the service?” Colon said.

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