Under the emergency ordinance, which will take effect immediately and last only 60 days, the field guns must be turned off between the hours of 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.
The ordinance further stipulates the boom guns must be positioned a minimum of 200 feet away from houses and/or residences and 400 feet away from any schools. The barrels of the carbide/propane field guns must also be pointed away from the houses and schools.
The emergency ban was imposed in response to citizens who complained the guns were being fired nonstop 24 hours a day.
During a committee meeting March 4, Julien LeBlanc begged jurors for some relief from the constant booms.
During Tuesday’s meeting, Juror Dale Trahan reported he visited one residence in the Lyons Point area and counted the scare guns firing 25 times in 25 minutes.
Rice farmers Randy Thibodeaux, Jerry Leonards Jr. and Fred Zaunbrecher told jurors their concerns about hampering their farming operations.
Citing the Louisiana right-to-farm statutes, Thibodeaux said the guns were needed to protect their crops.
If you put this on us, where will it end?” asked Thibodeaux. “We don’t need another rule on the books.”
He expressed the hope “they could talk among themselves and come to some agreement.”
Leonards, who serves as president of the Acadia Rice Growers Association, asked instead of an ordinance, can we address the problem with this farmer?
Reportedly, only one or two farmers have prompted the complaints.
Fred Zaunbrecher, who farms between Rayne and Crowley, told jurors he and his workers have shut down or slowed the field guns some nights.
Jury President A.J. “Fatty” Broussard emphasized he didn’t want to supersede the state right-to-farm statutes, but he was also aware of the complaints.
LeBlanc echoed Broussard’s comments, saying, “We don’t want to shut down a farmer.”
Juror David Savoy suggested the ordinance could be worded so that it would be enforced after a specified number of complaints were lodged.
Expanding on that suggestion, Broussard suggested the name and address of anyone complaining could be recorded to ensure a person wasn’t simply harassing a neighboring farmer.
When Broussard pointed out the ordinance they were considering would only be enforceable for 60 days, the farmers agreed to the limited parish regulation.
Jurors also agreed to remove a section establishing a minimum frequency of blasts.
Asked if the 60-day ordinance “had teeth,” Brad Andrus, the jury’s legal counsel, said he would speak to Sheriff Wayne Melancon the next day.
Under the ordinance, any person found in violation could be subject to a maximum fine of $300 and/or a term of imprisonment of 30 days in the parish jail. Each day of violation will be considered a separate offense.