THE POST-SIGNAL / Desiray Seaux
Scott Broussard of Acadiana Crawfish, left, spoke to the Crowley Rotary Club. He was welcomed to the meeting by Melinda Malmay of the Crowley Rotary Club.
Crawfish is big industry in the area
During a Crowley Rotary Club meeting, Scott Broussard of Acadiana Crawfish, discussed the crawfish industry and economy for the area.
Broussard owns a local live and packaging crawfish plant. According to Broussard, “Ten years ago rice was the big crop with crawfish coming in second. However, today, crawfish is the big crop and rice is now second. But, the rice must be planted first.”
At one time most crawfish farming took place in Atchafalaya Basin, where about 30 million pounds of crawfish are harvested each year. But, the variance of the water levels from year to year made harvesting crawfish very inconsistent.
The Basin’s water levels is controlled by the Army Corps of Engineers.
Currently, about 140 million pounds of crawfish is produced by farmers. Of that, crawfish makes about $500 million dollar economic impact in the area and about $260 million is paid to crawfish farmers.
In the early 1990s Louisiana had about 126 crawfish processing plants, by 2006 only about 26 processing plants were still in operation.
However, with the rapid growth of the crawfish industry Louisiana now has about 56 processing plants in operation.
The domestic market has experienced rapid growth because China, one of the largest crawfish producers, is now consuming more of their product than ever before.
Broussard built his crawfish processing plant in 2015, Acadiana Processing. In order to run at full capacity, about 100 seasonal employees are hired to work in the plant and an additional 45 are hired to work on the farm.
During peak crawfish season, Broussard’s plant ran 24 hours a day for eight weeks. Most of the processing plant labor force is from Mexico working on green cards for a few months during season. The workers peeled tail meat during the day and the crawfish were whole cooked at night.
Interestingly, there are about 500 buying docks and only 56 processing plants simply because it is impossible to take the number of crawfish produced at one location. On a peak season day, Broussard’s plant can take in about 250,000 pounds of crawfish.
According to Broussard, “About 60 percent” of the crawfish the plant takes in are processed in some fashion. Some crawfish are only washed and put in new sacks according to weight, some are sold as fresh boiled, some are cooked whole then frozen and bagged, and about 20 percent are processed to be sold as peeled tail meat.”
Broussard says, he ships the most live crawfish to Texas. But, not all states allow live crawfish to be shipped in. Whole cooked frozen is what is sent to those few states.
The whole frozen crawfish are prepared by boiling water with seasoning and essentially warming up the previously cooked crawfish.
Besides Louisiana, crawfish can also be found being farmed internationally in Spain, Egypt and Africa.