Louisiana declares disaster amid crawfish shortage

Louisiana Governor Jeff Landry signs disaster declaration for crawfish industry
Louisiana Governor Jeff Landry signs disaster declaration for crawfish industry | Photo courtesy of the Office of the Governor
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The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is offering low-interest federal disaster loans to  crawfish businesses in the U.S. state of Louisiana that were affected by extreme drought after the state’s governor issued a disaster declaration earlier in March 2024.

“The SBA's mission-driven team stands ready to help Louisiana small businesses affected by the drought and resulting crawfish shortage," SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman said. “We’re committed to providing federal disaster loans swiftly and efficiently, with a customer-centric approach to help businesses and communities weather this environmental and economic challenge.”

Drought conditions that began last year have impacted 365,000 acres used by the Louisiana crawfish industry, according to the state government, and have resulted in crawfish shortages, with Louisiana State University’s Agriculture Center estimating potential losses of nearly USD 140 million (EUR 130 million). Louisiana Governor Jeff Landry signed an executive order declaring a statewide disaster for the crawfish aquaculture industry on 6 March.

“Louisiana’s extreme drought conditions have affected our farmers, our economy, and our way of life,” Landry said in a statement. “All 365,000 crawfish acres in Louisiana have been affected by these conditions. That is why I am issuing a disaster declaration. The crawfish industry needs all the support it can get right now. I appreciate [U.S. Rep.] Clay Higgins (R-Louisiana) and [U.S. Rep.] Troy Carter (D-Louisiana) for their hard work and help on this important issue.”

Higgins had previously called on the state to seek federal aid for crawfish harvesters and praised Landry’s declaration.

“Last year’s drought has created severe economic injury to Louisiana’s crawfish industry and related businesses,” Higgins said. “While my office has been working at the federal level to secure USDA assistance for crawfish farmers, today’s action will help unlock additional relief programs for the entire industry. I appreciate Governor Landry for working with us to protect one of Louisiana’s most economically and culturally significant industries.”

The SBA encouraged crawfish harvesters and related aquaculture businesses to reach out to its Virtual Business Recovery Center to learn more about federal disaster loans – which can be used for normal operating expenses like fixed debts, payroll, and accounts payable – and apply online.

“Under the Biden-Harris administration, SBA is delivering relief for businesses affected by climate impacts like the drought conditions in Louisiana,” Office of Disaster Recovery and Resilience Associate Administrator Francisco Sánchez Jr. said. “This declaration offers much-needed assistance to small businesses engaged in aquaculture, such as those relying on the crawfish season. Small non-farm businesses and small agricultural cooperatives of any size may also qualify for Economic Injury Disaster loans of up to USD 2 million [EUR 1.8 million] to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses that could have been met had the drought not occurred.”

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