MADISONVILLE, La. (KTVE/KARD) — On Monday, April 18, 2022, Senator John Kennedy (R-La.) led members of Louisiana’s congressional delegation in urging Department of Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack, to grant assistance to Louisiana crawfish farmers recovering from natural disaster damage.

According to the lawmakers, Louisiana experienced a deep freeze causing six deaths, damaged infrastructure, and it hit Louisiana’s crawfish industry in early 2021.

Crawfish require warm temperatures in order to flourish and grow. In fact, even a day or two of severe cold weather can significantly stunt their growth. As we saw, this historic winter freeze did not kill the crawfish, but instead substantially slowed down their growth, crippling supply at the beginning of the season. Later that year, while crawfish farmers were still recovering from losses, Hurricane Ida ripped through Louisiana causing tens of billions in property damage.

As you know, the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees and Farm-raised Fish Program (ELAP) provides financial assistance to eligible producers of livestock, honeybees and farm-raised fish for losses due to disease, certain adverse weather events or other loss conditions. In May 2021, we were relieved food fish and other aquatic species were granted eligibility to request ELAP assistance. While we’re encouraged to learn that the Farm Service Agency (FSA) began delivering this much needed assistance to our crawfish farmers just two weeks ago, we’ve since received several concerns from farmers whose applications have been denied due to the failure to report their acreage prior to the September deadline.

We understand that acreage reporting is a normal practice for FSA programs, and traditional crop farmers are aware of the process, requirements, and deadlines. However, it is essential to note that crawfish farming is a unique, niche practice to which some producers’ first time engaging with FSA was for this purpose. We urge you and the FSA Administrator to review this time-sensitive request and grant much needed assistance to our Louisiana crawfish farmers.

The Lawmakers