Mobile classroom to help displaced poultry workers in Farmerville March 16-17

Jason Holmes, Hatch, Dora Ann, Van Osdell, Mary Ann  |  3/10/2009 1:52:57 AM

News Release Distributed 03/09/09

A mobile classroom will be in Farmerville March 16-17 to help displaced workers and poultry growers affected by the upcoming closure of the Pilgrim’s Pride facilities in northern Louisiana.

The unit will be set up in response to a recent announcement by Pilgrim’s Pride to idle its Farmerville complex, which includes a chicken processing plant and protein conversion plant in Farmerville, a feed mill in Arcadia and hatcheries in Athens and Choudrant.

The Pilgrim’s Pride announcement said the company will lay off approximately 1,294 employees beginning around April 18. In addition, chick placements to 127 contract growers will end March 20.

The custom-designed semi trailer is fitted to house seminars and workshops. The self-contained mobile classroom has state-of-the-art audiovisual capabilities, including a large plasma-screen monitor and broadband wireless Internet connectivity, and seats up to 24 people.

During the Farmerville stop, sessions ranging from 45 to 90 minutes long will focus on job hunting and career options, managing finances and stress, and government programs, according to LSU AgCenter officials.

Registration is suggested and can be made by calling the LSU AgCenter office in Farmerville at (318) 368-9935. The mobile unit will be across the street from the AgCenter office at 210 E. Water St.

The project is a partnership of the LSU AgCenter, Louisiana Secretary of State, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Louisiana Economic Development, Louisiana Public Facilities Authority, Louisiana Municipal Association, Capital One, Louisiana Business and Technology Center, LSU E.J. Ourso College of Business and Louisiana Small Business Development Center.

In addition to the classroom visit, the LSU AgCenter has created a blog to serve as a clearinghouse for information concerning the idling of Pilgrim’s Pride in Farmerville.

Jason Holmes, LSU AgCenter county agent in Union Parish, said “fragmented, inaccurate” information about the plant idling has been circulating, and a farmer suggested using the Internet for a clearinghouse.

Online at www.louisianapoultryfarmers.blogspot.com, the blog includes news stories and a letter that Pilgrim’s Pride sent to elected officials. An area for posting comments is available, but it is not meant to be a “gripe session,” Holmes cautioned.

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 Mary Ann Van Osdell

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