Thursday, June 20, 2024

USDA Assistance Sustains Louisiana Crawfish Producers Impacted by Extreme Conditions in 2023

⋅ BY KANE WEBB

Last fall, exceptional heat and drought hit southwest Louisiana, threatening the region’s crawfish crop. It soon became evident that things were going to be worse than anticipated as extreme heat conditions along with saltwater intrusion, lack of surface water, and high mortality rates meant very little to no catch for area crawfish farmers.

Allen McLain Jr. caters “Crawfish on Capitol Hill” event in 2018.

To help commercial crawfish producers recover from the devastating season, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) recently authorized assistance and policy flexibilities through the Emergency Livestock Assistance Program (ELAP). Crawfish was first included in the ELAP in 2021.

Extreme heat is considered an ELAP-eligible loss condition and in 2023, according to Louisiana State University (LSU) weather data, from June through October 2023, temperatures in Louisiana generally exceeded the normal range. Excessive drought also occurred in all the parishes where commercial crawfish are grown and harvested.

“Rice and crawfish go hand-in-hand for many in south Louisiana,” said Andy Brown, the commodity and public policy director for the Louisiana Farm Bureau. “Much like rice, increased input costs coupled with fluctuations in markets from COVID and extreme weather, have made margins very tight for farmers over the last few years.”

Crawfish don’t have other traditional safety nets beyond ELAP so this relief is critical.

“How much crawfish impacts your bottom line varies from farm to farm but there are very few in south Louisiana anymore that don’t pencil in crawfish revenue to some degree,” said Allen McLain, Jr., chair of the Louisiana Farm Bureau Rice Advisory Committee who farms both rice and crawfish near Abbeville.

“When a revenue source is wiped out completely, with increased costs as well, it makes things very challenging. Salt water, no water, low production — it was all a perfect storm making our crawfish season one of the worst I’ve seen. We hope this assistance will keep more folks in crawfish, and also rice, by helping to soften those blows.”

Go here for additional information on ELAP. To apply for program assistance, producers can contact the FSA office located in their local USDA Service Center.


This article is provided by USA Rice’s The Daily.

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