Mary Tutwiler

Crawfish farmers clawing toward strike

by Mary Tutwiler

Boiling mad crawfish farmers are meeting tonight in Rayne to decide if they will go on strike. According to Steve Minville, director of the Louisiana Crawfish Farmer’s Association, farmers have been complaining of price fixing by crawfish processors--those who buy and resell Louisiana mudbugs. The price being offered for live crawfish, Minville says, is 75 cents on the wholesale market, three cents below cost. “How am I supposed to pay for my daughter’s college education? How am I supposed to pay for my electric bill at home?” asks Minville, a farmer since 2000. The high cost of diesel, currently about $3.40 a gallon, used to pump freshwater into the ponds, is contributing to the problem, but Minville says the dispute with the middle man has been ongoing for years. “Our industry has begged for us to address price fixing.” Crawfish farmers will meet at 6 p.m. tonight at the Rayne Civic Center to vote on whether to cut off the supply of crawfish, just as the season begins to kick into gear.