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Rice farmers concerned with possible wind farms in Acadia Parish - KATC.com | Continuous News Coverage | Acadiana-Lafayette

Rice farmers concerned with possible wind farms in Acadia Parish

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Acadia Parish -

You could see wind turbines in Acadia Parish in the next few years. A project is in the works to install the turbines in rural parts of Acadia Parish between Crowley and Eunice along LA 13.

The work is expected to be completed by 2019, but the project is not without controversy. Some rice farmers say it could negatively affect their crops.

For the Leonards family of Crowley, rice farming is their livelihood. 

Donald and John Leonards are both fourth-generation rice producers, but they say a wind turbine project could affect that family tradition. It could also affect other rice farmers in Acadia Parish. 

"These are some giant machines out in the field," Leonards said. "It would affect aerial applications and pesticides, rice and fertilizer. It would be very hard, I would say, to the rice farms." 

Apex Clean Energy will be building the wind turbines. According to the company's website, the turbines will provide power for 68,000 homes. It's unclear where those homes will be.

The Louisiana Agricultural Aviation Association is recommending pilots stay at least one mile away from the turbines, Leonards said. 

"Out in the field, airplanes can't fly within so many feet of it," Leonards said. "That limits you to what you can put out in your field. You can't fly an airplane across it to help grow your crop."

He added, "It'll affect a lot of acres and a lot of people's livelihoods because so many farmers farm different tracts of land that's intermingled with each other. If one farmer has it (wind turbines) and the next one don't, then it will still affect each other." 

KATC made several calls to Apex Clean Energy, but the company has not responded.

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