From left are Ville Platte Rotary President Nicole Wenger, Rotarian Barbara Buroker, and local farmer Richard Fontenot. Fontenot spoke about challenges facing agriculture at this week’s meeting on Tuesday. (Gazette photo by Tony Marks)
Rotary news: Undearage drinking, at risk pregnancies, and agriculture
The Rotary Club of Ville Platte, over the last three weeks, heard about issues facing residents of Evangeline Parish ranging from underage drinking to agriculture.
On September 10, Lorenzo Richard addressed the club on behalf of the Krewe d’Evangeline Coalition of Preventing Underage Drinking.
“We join forces with the State of Louisiana and compose a positive action curriculum,” Richard said. “That enables us to do prevention techniques in the schools, communities, churches, and local area around Evangeline Parish.”
Part of the plan, as Richard explained, is to “provide safe environments for our youth at different events such as ballgames and festivals.” He added, “We’re going to offer free beverage trainings for the local stores and community people who put on the festivals and train them on how to look for underage drinking in Evangeline Parish.”
The plan also consists of going into the classrooms especially around homecoming and prom. Richard said, “We want to create some kind of positive aspects during those times when kids are most prone to sneak in alcohol.”
A week later, on September 17, the Rotary Club then heard from Travis Turner and Kim Loewer on behalf of the soon to be opened New Life Pregnancy Center in Mamou.
“Our plan is, when a lady walks through the doors, is to connect with her,” Turner said. “We want to walk with her for the first two years minimum. We don’t want to just say, ‘you should have your baby, and you’re on your own.’ We want to be at the hospital when she has that baby and afterward to help her, to do parenting classes, and to make sure she has the resources she needs.”
He continued, “We want women to know where they can come and know they can have this baby. We also want them to know abortion is not the only option they have. Life comes from God, and we want to celebrate that.”
The Rotary Club this week then heard from Evangeline Parish farmer and Louisiana Farm Bureau contributor Richard Fontenot on recent challenges in agriculture.
“Unfortunately,” he said, “we’re not on the good side of the cycle right now because we’ve had markets and different activities on the global environment that has really deteriorated some of our opportunities.”
One of the challenges, as Fontenot explained, comes from the weather. “In 2016,” he said, “we had some floods. In 2017, we had some timely floods that were substantial, and, this year, we had a hurricane that came through.”
Because of Hurricane Barry, Louisiana rice farmers are facing a 30-percent reduction in crops.
Fontenot went on to explain another challenge comes from tariffs. “It took us 14 years to work with China and trade with China openly,” he said. “Well, our president and China have a little disagreement over tariffs. If we don’t fix some of the trade barriers and trade situations and unbalances we have today, we won’t have that opportunity down the road.”
Fontenot went on to report some news on the soybean market. He shared, “We heard some good news last week that China was looking at buying some additional soybeans. We saw about a 60-percent jump in the market just on that announcement by itself.”