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Are Crawfish Counted in the Ag Census in Louisiana?

Posted by Kathy Broussard, Louisiana State Statistician, USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service in Research and Science
Dec 27, 2019
Louisiana boiled crawfish
Crawfish sales jumped 72 percent from 2012 to 2017 in Louisiana, signifying the ever-present cultural phenomenon of the crawfish boil. This quintessentially American crustacean treat turns a delicious bright red after cooking. Photo Courtesy of DoD, Senior Airman Micaiah Anthony

Absolutely! Louisiana’s diverse agriculture does in fact include crawfish. While the Census of Agriculture doesn’t count every crawfish harvested, it does capture the value of sales from commercial producers.

In the 2017 Census of Agriculture, Louisiana (PDF, 977 KB) crawfish producers reported nearly $59 million in sales, up 74 percent from 2012. Crawfish have been around Louisiana a long time - the first recorded commercial crawfish harvested occurred in 1880 and had a value of $2,140. Over the years, the industry has expanded. Currently, it is being fueled by a growing market, in part because folks know they are not just for bait!

Long a favorite across Louisiana, crawfish are boiled at family gatherings, used in family favorite recipes, and have been introduced by chefs and restaurants across the United States. Shipping live crawfish gives everyone their seasonal crawfish boil fix where ever they happen to live.

Another important crop grown across the Pelican State that goes hand in hand with crawfish is rice. According to the 2017 Census of Agriculture, Louisiana ranked third in U.S. rice production, with producers harvesting nearly 398,000 acres. Over 800 farms produced rice and 45 percent of Louisiana’s rice is grown on farms that range from 500 to 999 acres in size.

During the 19th century, rice production made its way to southern Louisiana, for which it was well suited with an abundant water source and a subsurface layer of clay that holds water used during the growing phases. Soils used to grow rice are also good for crawfish – sometimes dubbed mudbugs. Some crawfish are raised as a single-crop system that use rice as a forage food source. But, crawfish are also used by rice producers as part of their crop rotation systems where crawfish feed on the rice stubble after the grain is harvested.

By no means are rice and crawfish the only commodities produced in the state. Louisiana’s agriculture also includes cotton, corn, soybeans, sugarcane, poultry, cattle, aquaculture and the nursery/greenhouse industry. The state’s 27,386 farms produced these commodities and more on 8 million acres of ag land. Combined, the market value of agriculture products sold in 2017 was over $3.1 billion in Louisiana.

Agriculture is a part of Louisiana’s history, heritage and is an integral part of our unique culture. Take time to enjoy what Louisiana agriculture has to offer. To learn more about Louisiana’s agriculture, please see the 2017 Census of Agriculture State and Parish Profiles.

Category/Topic: Research and Science