US industries hurt by Chinese ‘dumping’ could get more of a payout

WESTWEGO, La. – A group of US senators is trying to get the federal government to hand over millions of dollars collected from China as a penalty for flooding markets with cheap products.

If it works out, some American companies could be in for a payout.

Among them are folks in Louisiana’s crawfish industry.

Crawfish peelers at Bayou Land Seafood peel about 1,500 lbs of tail meat in a day during crawfish season. (Fox News / Fox News)

If you ask anyone who lives on the bayous, they’ll tell you there is no Louisiana without crawfish.

“It’s part of the culture, just like the French language and Cajun music,” said Adam Johnson of Bayou Land Seafood. “Crawfish and Cajun music, you can not get better than that.”

But over 20 years ago, the industry was almost wiped out by Chinese crawfish flooding the market. It’s known as “dumping,” when other countries sell products in the US below the cost of production.

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“It was coming in at $ 2 a pound or less in some cases,” said Karl Turner with A La Carte Specialty Foods. “There was negative market share and unfair competition for Louisiana crawfish farmers.”

Crawfish

Crawfish (Fox News / Fox News)

“I wasn’t making money on it,” Johnson added. “If I was making money, it was not enough to pay for the insurance and the overhead and the risk of creating a food item.”

Congress found the practice illegal and in 2000 passed legislation requiring all anti-dumping tariffs to be paid to the US producers who were affected. The latest Senate bill on the matter claims administrative delays are keeping Americans from seeing that money.

The bill, the China Trade Cheating Restitution Act, was introduced by Republican US Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana in partnership with Senators Jon Tester, D-Mont .; Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; and John Thune, RS.D. It directs Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to pay $ 38.5 million from the interest on anti-dumping duties received from Chinese imports to several agricultural industries harmed by the illegal practice.

The funding would include $ 10.6 million for crawfish producers.

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“Crawfish is part of our culture in Louisiana, and we will defend it,” Cassidy said in a release. “China is attempting to put our crawfish industry out of business by dumping their product in the US at prices below the cost of production. This is against the law. This legislation gives American processors the resources they need to stay competitive and thrive.”

Others that would benefit include American honey, garlic and mushroom producers.

“Hopefully this money will be used to reinvest into the plants – into the operations – to become more efficient and more competitive so that we can compete against foreign producers,” Turner said.

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Crawfish (Fox News / Fox News)

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While many crawfish producers agree that China is their biggest competitor, they also say that finding seasonal workers is their biggest challenge right now.

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