ACADIA PARISH — Crawfish farmers are hopeful that federal assistance through the coronavirus food assistance program will bring some relief after a difficult season.
The crawfish industry was impacted during the pandemic.
A survey by the LSUAg Center and the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation shows the crawfish industry is estimated to take a $146 million hit this year.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Tuesday that crawfish will now be covered under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program to help farmers with financial losses from the pandemic.
CFAP provides direct relief to producers who faced price declines and additional marketing costs due to COVID-19.
Some farmers are hopeful this can help with their losses.
"You know there's always a hiccup in the weather," Alan Lawson explained. "Every year it's something, but nothing this long lasting and far reaching like this at all. "
Lawson says the pandemic hit right in the middle of crawfish season.
"The closures really started during the peak of the crawfish season. The majority of the crawfish were caught in March and April. That's about the time there was a lot of restaurant closures."
Lawson says another hardship, many farmers couldn't take advantage of the Pay-Roll Protection Program because some workers are not U.S. citizens
"We can't find American citizens to do the job," Lawson said. "So we have to hire them, but we weren't able to use what was offered to these businesses for relief. So we lost our markets and we couldn't take advantage of any other programs that were out there."
Lawson is hopeful the federal assistance could bring some relief.
"When you take a significant portion of your income and it's taken away it's always good to have some kind of replacement," Lawson said. "But it remains to be seen what you'll get out of it . "
The USDA is also extending the deadline to apply for the program to Sept. 11, and producers with approved applications will receive their final payment.
The USDA also added other types of seafood to the "aquaculture" category of eligible commodities include catfish, bass, salmon, tilapia and trout.
Visthttps://www.farmers.gov/cfapfor more specifics and the application.