Washington sources said the processors are eligible for about $9 million, an increase from last year when $7.4 million was divided among the group. Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry Bob Odom said this is a substantial increase from the $2 million that Customs had reportedly collected as of August.

Although the $9 million is just a small portion of the nearly $80 million in invoices mailed out to importers, Odom is pleased with the amount.

“I suspect that tens of millions of dollars should have been collected but was not,” Odom said. “I'm not going to complain about our processors getting more money from the tariffs, I just would like for it to be even more than the figure we’re hearing.”

Louisiana crawfish processors are getting the tariff money as a result of the Byrd Amendment, which says antidumping petitioners are to receive funds collected by Customs for their industry.

Odom said roughly 27 processors in the state would benefit from the money. There were more than 100 crawfish processors in Louisiana until cheap Chinese crawfish imports flooded the market in the early 1990s.

In 1996, Louisiana crawfish processors filed an antidumping petition with the U.S. International Trade Commission and the U.S. Department of Commerce. An anti-dumping tariff was announced in September 1997 and deposit collections began. For several years the threat of eventual collection of the tariff worked. It kept the price of imports around $5.50 per pound roughly allowing the domestic crawfish industry to compete with the Chinese.

“I suspect most of this money comes from the deposits importers had to pay, not from actual tariffs Customs has collected. We’ll never know for sure because that information is proprietary and only Customs can see it,” Odom said.

Last year Odom was critical of the bureaucratic red tape impeding the collection of tariffs on Chinese crawfish imports and his sentiments have carried over into 2003.

“What we have going on is a classic case of shrewd importers and their lawyers moving much faster than the snail’s pace of the federal bureaucracy,” Odom said.

“But, today I couldn’t be happier. Maybe some pressure from Congress will help Customs realize how important the collection of these tariffs is to the livelihood of our state's processors,” he noted.

“They need this money. If they aren’t in business, the crawfish farmers and Basin fishermen have no market for their product. Everyone will benefit from this $9 million.”

e-mail: BATON ROUGE, La. – For the second consecutive year, Louisiana crawfish processors who filed an anti-dumping petition in 1996 will receive funds from tariffs on Chinese crawfish tailmeat collected by the U.S. Customs Service.

Washington sources said the processors are eligible for about $9 million, an increase from last year when $7.4 million was divided among the group. Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry Bob Odom said this is a substantial increase from the $2 million that Customs had reportedly collected as of August.

Although the $9 million is just a small portion of the nearly $80 million in invoices mailed out to importers, Odom is pleased with the amount.

“I suspect that tens of millions of dollars should have been collected but was not,” Odom said. “I'm not going to complain about our processors getting more money from the tariffs, I just would like for it to be even more than the figure we’re hearing.”

Louisiana crawfish processors are getting the tariff money as a result of the Byrd Amendment, which says antidumping petitioners are to receive funds collected by Customs for their industry.

Odom said roughly 27 processors in the state would benefit from the money. There were more than 100 crawfish processors in Louisiana until cheap Chinese crawfish imports flooded the market in the early 1990s.

In 1996, Louisiana crawfish processors filed an antidumping petition with the U.S. International Trade Commission and the U.S. Department of Commerce. An anti-dumping tariff was announced in September 1997 and deposit collections began. For several years the threat of eventual collection of the tariff worked. It kept the price of imports around $5.50 per pound roughly allowing the domestic crawfish industry to compete with the Chinese.

“I suspect most of this money comes from the deposits importers had to pay, not from actual tariffs Customs has collected. We’ll never know for sure because that information is proprietary and only Customs can see it,” Odom said.

Last year Odom was critical of the bureaucratic red tape impeding the collection of tariffs on Chinese crawfish imports and his sentiments have carried over into 2003.

“What we have going on is a classic case of shrewd importers and their lawyers moving much faster than the snail’s pace of the federal bureaucracy,” Odom said.

“But, today I couldn’t be happier. Maybe some pressure from Congress will help Customs realize how important the collection of these tariffs is to the livelihood of our state's processors,” he noted.

“They need this money. If they aren’t in business, the crawfish farmers and Basin fishermen have no market for their product. Everyone will benefit from this $9 million.”

e-mail: flaws@primediabusiness.com