By Scott Whittington, Public Affairs Specialist
Successful people have many characteristics in common, and one of the most important is never giving up. One farming family’s crop was devastated when they lost their entire crop yield, but they kept their eyes focused on success.
“Years ago we used insecticide on rice to control water weevil bugs. It wasn’t supposed to kill crawfish, but it did,” said Gerard Frey, owner of D&D Crawfish. “It took us three years to replenish. It wiped the whole crop. We didn’t catch a single pound.”
Gerard and his wife Dana have been farming nearly 40 years in Iota, Louisiana. They started with just 200 acres of rice and 45 acres of crawfish fields, but after three years, they started raising more crawfish. They also raise beef and dairy cows. Now they operate on 3,300 acres (2,000 acres of crawfish, 1,000 acres of rice and 300 acres of pasture), which includes harvesting, processing and delivering their crawfish.
“Since we built the plant, we peel and process,” said Gerard. “We want the best quality for our consumers.” He added that they don’t use motor boats to collect the crawfish from more than 30,000 traps so there’s no chance of motor oil or gasoline tainting the water.
When farmers and ranchers run into multiple challenges, the USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) can provide assistance. FSA has many programs to help farmers and ranchers make sure they don’t lose their businesses.
In addition to helping the Frey’s rebuild their crawfish crop, the FSA helped the Frey’s fund the grading of their land completely flat, which is cost effective and better for the aquafer which benefits the rice and crawfish crop.
“We’d be out of the rice business if it wasn’t for the FSA’s government secured payments,” said Gerard. “There’s no way you can farm rice without the assistance of the FSA. Their [assistance] helps keep the food prices affordable for everybody.”
Gerard is truly dedicated to his work and ensures consumers have a good quality product harvested by someone who works for them.
“The cold days, the hot days, you have to be out there,” he said. “The only time you don’t is when the ice is too thick to break.”
As consumer demand for local products rises, U.S. farmers and ranchers like the Frey’s are working to meet the demand by creating local markets for their products. USDA is working hard to introduce these family farmers and ranchers to the American consumer.
Between 2009 and 2015, USDA invested over $1 billion in more than 40,000 local and regional food businesses and infrastructure projects.