LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) – Senator Bill Cassidy introduced has introduced a bill that could bring over 10 million dollars to crawfish farmers and producers. It’s targeted to combat the biggest threat to the Louisiana crawfish industry, Chinese imports.
Crawfish processors remember when China first invaded the U.S. market with tail meat and offered it at half the price. This dumping below the cost of production is done specifically to drive Louisiana crawfish producers out of business
Andre Leger’s family has been in the Louisiana crawfish business since 1976. He owns Chez Francois Seafood in Lafayette, and he’s seen demand for the meat explode but also outside competition from China dumping in local and national markets.
“I remember when they first came in you could buy Chinese tail meat for two dollars and Louisiana tail meat was five dollars,” Leger stated. “If you’re going to compete with a product with half the cost, you can’t. You can’t compete with a product half the cost.”
When over 100 crawfish processors dropped to a few dozen, Congress acted making it federal law to pass all tariff funds from these illegal exports to American agricultural producers. However, Senator Bill Cassidy says administrative delays have prevented much of it from reaching businesses affected by China’s unfair trade tactics. “So we want the money to come which under federal law should from those tariff fees going to our crawfish farmers,” Cassidy urged.
Cassidy’s “China Trade Cheating Restitution Act” directs Customs and Border Protection to pay $38.5M from the interest on Chinese imports, including $10.6M for crawfish producers. “Whenever I eat my crawfish etouffee, I want Louisiana crawfish,” Cassidy said. “One, it’s our culture. Two it’s unfair, and three whenever you put a competitor out of business, you come back and triple the price, so long term it’s in the interest of everybody, particularly for we in Louisiana.”
But the money does not go toward every processor. Some like Leger say they have seen no funds from tariffs and would like to see other parts of bringing pond to plate not left out.
“I wish there was a way that the Chinese tariff bill would be written to support the whole industry. There’s not just farmers and processors. There’s farmers, there’s processors, there’s crawfish buying docks, and there are wild commercial fisherman that are all involved in the industry,” Leger concluded.
He also warned some of the Chinese crawfish brands hide their true intentions behind names like Boudreaux or Bernard for their store-bought products, so if you see a price suspiciously low, read the fine print. It may be trying to put Louisiana crawfish processors out of business.
In 2000 Congress passed the Continued Dumping and Subsidy Offset Act (CDSOA), which instructed CBP to pay all collected anti-dumping (AD) duties and accrued interest to the U.S. producers that were injured by dumped imports. CDSOA applies to imports that entered the U.S. through September 30, 2007, but due to a range of delays, CBP is still assessing and collecting AD duties and interest on many of these imports.
The bill would:
Require CBP to distribute under CDSOA an estimated $35.6 million in accrued delinquency interest on the antidumping duties that CBP collected and wrongfully withheld
Amend the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 to move the date of interest collected by the CBP to be dispersed from October 1, 2014 to October 1, 2000 to account for substantial interest withheld by CBP beginning in 2000