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A crawfish producer runs the traps in a field near Eunice. Crawfish producers hurt by the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic will be able to receive compensation from a program offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. (Photo by Bruce Schultz/LSU AgCenter)

USDA assistance available for crawfish farmers hurt by pandemic

From now until Sept. 11, crawfish farmers can apply for assistance from a U.S. Department of Agriculture program to compensate them for losses related to the coronavirus pandemic.
“This program will help producers deal with economic problems caused by the low prices and the inability to move crawfish,” said LSU AgCenter economist Kurt Guidry. “This will help them close the gap between what revenue they were able to generate and what they would have expected to generate this year.”
To compensate for low prices, the program will pay producers 65 cents for every pound of crawfish caught between Jan. 15 and April 15.
To help with the limited market problems, producers will receive 5 cents for every pound they left in the ponds because of the limitations on selling their crawfish.
“That’s going to be a big shot in the arm,” said farmer Alan Lawson, of Acadia Parish. “That’s going to help a lot of crawfish farmers. The virus hit smack dab in the middle of the best time of the crawfish season.”
Farmers didn’t benefit from the payroll protection program. Lawson said he was bound by a contract to pay foreign workers even if there was no work at times. “This will help offset that,” he said.
The USDA is expected to the payments before year’s end. “The USDA is committed to get this money out as quickly as possible,” Guidry said.
Farmers must meet several requirements to get the funds. Details on those requirements are available on the internet at lsuagcenter.com/cfap.
Farmers will have to document their catches to be eligible for payments, Guidry said.
Producers will not have to show this documentation when applying, but it’s likely the USDA will conduct compliance reviews, and documentation would be required then. Also, the County Commission, which reviews all applications, may request documentation to address questions prior to approving the application.
Producers who cannot provide data and other documentation to verify the information they certified in the application are subject to repaying all of the payments received. “That could be months down the road, so producers are highly encouraged to maintain their production records,” Guidry said.
Producers must call their local Farm Service Agency offices to make an appointment for filling out an application.
All indications suggest that funding for the program is adequate to cover the industry. “It’s not being conducted on a first-come, first-served basis,” Guidry said.
The program does not include wild crawfish. “This is strictly for farm-raised crawfish,” Guidry said.

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