LAFAYETTE - Consumers will likely pay more for crawfish this season, according to Steve Minville, executive director of the Louisiana Crawfish Producers Association.
The reasons include a dry summer and the high cost of diesel that made it too expensive to pump enough water into crawfish ponds, according to Mark Shirley, LSU AgCenter aquaculture specialist.
"Crawfish are going to cost a bunch more this year," Shirley said.
The price has to go up or the producers will have to go out of business, Minville said.
"Last year, fewer than 5 percent of the crawfish producers covered their expenses," Minville says. "You can't go on like that."
He points out that crawfish producers are not "fishermen," and that they have rising input costs ? such as diesel to pump water ? that must be met if they are to stay in business.
"On average, it costs a producer 62 cents a pound to grow and harvest the crawfish. That's what he needs just to cover costs. This is a commodity crop just like any other commodity crop. We have to get back what we put out in land leases and fuel costs and other expenses that we put into the crop."
Sixty-two cents a pound equates to about $25 a sack, just for the farmer to break even, Minville says. "That's no profit for shoes for the kids. That's just staying in business."
Don Benoit, a crawfish producer and buyer said it's too early to tell just how much a 40-pound sack of crawfish will cost during the peak of the season, but he predicted the cost will be at least $40 a sack for medium-sized crawfish and more than that for the bigger ones.
With production just beginning, the going price is substantially higher than that, he said, but it will come down as the weather warms and more producers begin harvesting. How much it will come down will depend on the size and quality of the harvest and how many producers participate.