Charles Lutz, Merrill, Thomas A., Shirley, Mark G.
Louisiana crawfish and catfish producers will vote Oct. 12 on whether to continue funding promotion and research in their industries.
Under the current system, producers pay what are commonly known as "checkoff" funds based on the number of crawfish sacks used, the amount of crawfish bait they buy or the tons of catfish feed they purchase.
Although the votes are scheduled on the same date, the referendums involve two separate boards and two different funding systems – the Louisiana Crawfish Promotion and Research Board and the Louisiana Catfish Promotion and Research Board.
"The crawfish and catfish industries in Louisiana generally have been very supportive of the activities of their boards, since the money is spent according to industry priorities," said LSU AgCenter aquaculture professor Dr. Greg Lutz.
Promotional activities funded by the assessments have focused on statewide foodservice programs, radio promotions, food-service and hospitality industries across the country, in-state and national consumer education and international trade. Recipe and nutritional brochures, supplier directories and promotional materials also have been developed.
In addition, the boards also fund research by Louisiana universities that addresses specific priorities identified by producers and processors.
"A number of Louisiana universities have been able to attract additional funding for crawfish and catfish research from state and federal sources as a result of this support from local industry," said LSU AgCenter aquaculture specialist Mark Shirley. "In that way, the crawfish and catfish producers of the state have been able to greatly increase the ‘bang for their buck’ in terms of research."
Crawfish research topics over the years have included production and harvesting problems, reproduction and survival in burrows, processing methods and market research. Catfish research funded under the program has addressed flavor control, genetic improvement, water quality improvement and health management.
Checkoff funds for both the Crawfish Promotion and Research Board and the Catfish Promotion and Research Board must be renewed by producers every five years. Both are set to expire this year.
The Louisiana Crawfish Promotion and Research Board was established in 1983 by the Louisiana Legislature to provide a voluntary method of raising funds for the betterment of the Louisiana crawfish industry.
Funds are generated for crawfish promotion and research activities through a voluntary assessment of one cent for each sack holding less than 25 pounds of crawfish and 2 cents for each sack holding over 25 pounds. Additional funds are generated through an assessment of one-quarter cent per pound of all artificial crawfish bait sold in the state.
In 1990, the Legislature also established the Louisiana Catfish Promotion and Research Board, with a similar goal for Louisiana’s catfish producers. Funds for catfish promotion and research are provided by a voluntary assessment of $2 per ton of catfish feed bought, sold or manufactured within the state.
Although producers vote on the renewals, participation still is voluntary. Those who don’t want to participate still can seek refunds of the assessments charged to them.
Voting on the renewals will be held on Oct. 12 at each parish LSU AgCenter Extension Service office in the state. A complete list of those offices can be found at under the "Parish Offices" listing at www.lsuagcenter.com.
To cast a ballot, a crawfish producer must show proof of purchase of at least 100 pounds of bait or sales of 100 sacks during the previous 12 months. Catfish producers must show proof of purchase of at least 5 tons of catfish feed during the previous 12 months.
Once the ballots have been officially counted, the boards will notify the participating producers of the referendum outcomes.