Louisiana lawmakers pass bill banning foreign seafood from school lunches

The Louisiana state capitol building
The Louisiana state capitol building | Photo courtesy of RebeccaDLev/Shutterstock
4 Min

Lawmakers in the U.S. state of Louisiana have passed a bill banning schools from purchasing foreign seafood to serve in school lunches.

HB 429 prohibits public schools and any other schools receiving state funding from serving imported seafood. The bill would also ban imported seafood from being served at the Louisiana House Dining Hall.

It’s unclear how often foreign seafood is being served in Louisiana school lunches, though. The National School Lunch and Breakfast programs already require schools to purchase domestic products. While schools may obtain a "Buy American" exemption if they can show domestic products are cost-prohibitive or have limited availability, the Louisiana Department of Education reported that it does not know of any schools using a Buy American exemption for seafood. The department also told Louisiana’s Legislative Fiscal Office that it does not expect the legislation to have “a significant impact” since seafood is not offered as much in school lunches as other proteins.

The Louisiana House Dining Hall is expected to see increased costs of roughly USD 3.00 (EUR 2.79) per pound for shrimp and USD 2.00 (EUR 1.86) per pound for catfish, according to the Legislative Fiscal Office. 

Sponsored by state Representative Marcus Bryant (D-New Iberia), the bill passed without opposition in the Louisiana Senate, with only seven dissents in the House.

The bill has been sent to the office of Louisiana Governor Jeff Landry for his signature.

Louisiana has passed a handful of bills in the last two months to deter seafood imports. In June, lawmakers passed a bill that finally established fines for the state’s five-year-old law requiring restaurants to note whether the crawfish and shrimp they serve is imported or domestic on their menus. In 2023, the Louisiana Illuminator reported the state was unable to enforce the law despite issuing thousands of citations.

The Louisiana legislature also voted to raise fees on commercial imported seafood permit holders, increasing it from a USD 100 (EUR 93) annual fee to USD 1,000 (EUR 930) annually by 2028.

In May, Landry signed a false marketing bill prohibiting the use of Louisiana-related imagery and phrasing – like “New Orleans-style” – on foreign-caught seafood packaging. The rule goes into effect in 2025.

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