REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS: Exploratory Research Report on Cooperatively and Locally owned Louisiana fishing intermediaries

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REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS

Exploratory Research Report on Cooperatively and Locally owned Louisiana fishing intermediaries

The Foundation for Louisiana (FFL) invites qualified researchers and consultants to submit proposals to conduct exploratory research into cooperatively and locally owned fishing intermediaries.   FFL believes key pressures impacting Louisiana fishing communities could potentially be addressed through a locally or regionally and cooperatively owned intermediary. This type of institution might navigate the strains of environmental change and shifting market forces by providing the organizational structure to sell to optimal markets, yielding collective bargaining capacity, reducing the burden of inputs and costs for individual fishermen, increasing take home wages while distributing shared costs, and housing administrative, logistical, and processing services. Shifting economic control to a fisheries cooperative may deepen support for industry and build wealth for fishing communities through adaptation measures.  To improve outcomes for the fishers and fishing communities at the center of Louisiana seafood with an ultimate goal to build enhanced economic systems that further equitable outcomes for the people who bear the brunt of the work and the risk, FFL is seeking to advance exploratory research considering the viability of establishing locally owned fisheries cooperatives and processing intermediaries.  Funding for this research is made possible by a generous grant from JPMorgan Chase Philanthropies to Foundation for Louisiana.  

Context and Challenge:

The future of Louisiana fisheries -- and the communities and businesses which depend upon them for their livelihoods -- are subject to ongoing environmental changes and the industry’s evolution amidst domestic and international production. A cooperatively and locally-owned intermediary could provide critical economic infrastructure to build wealth in Louisiana fishing communities while supporting businesses in adapting to environmental change and evolving market forces.

Environmental changes in Louisiana, including land loss and the impacts of climate change, are consistent with trends emerging globally. Our state is on the front lines of climate change, developing the adaptation strategies and the leadership required to face these challenges while taking steps to center racial equity across all facets of a comprehensive approach towards the future. With national and global relevance, Louisiana is operating as an incubator for both emerging visions and actionable methods to mitigate and reduce the impacts of environmental change to our communities and businesses. In elevating the lessons we have learned spurring innovation in the face of environmental change, Foundation for Louisiana is positioned, alongside our many partners, to guide other states and regions in centering marginalized communities in public and private policy reform, economic development, and wealth building efforts while adapting to coastal and climate change. 

Impacts from coastal land loss, saltwater intrusion, sea level rise, riverine flooding, and coastal restoration efforts will affect the viability and geographic distribution of the fishing industry. As agencies across multiple levels of government work to support adaptation to environmental change within the industry, there is not currently an institution which centers the needs and business opportunities of Louisiana fishers and is able to advocate on the behalf of that collective group. Aspects of this work are currently being undertaken by Louisiana Sea Grant and the Louisiana Seafood and Marketing Board. Still, initial research reveals remaining unmet needs. 

Louisiana fisheries include established powerful players who have long influenced the direction and speed of change and innovation. This influence has presented a challenge to change and evolution within the industry and can also create barriers to entry. Additionally, many of Louisiana’s fishing communities have experienced decades of marginalization and lack of access to the decision makers who draft and update policies and procedures, especially for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color fishers. Racism and lack of access to policy makers continues to manifest through the implementation of policies and practices, with substantial variation in the benefits of publicly and privately funded tools and programs. Access to capital and traditional lending instruments influences racialized disparities in wealth distribution and ability to scale business operations. Louisiana fishers are also increasingly subject to commodity pricing of global fishing markets and influence on dock prices from external processors and intermediaries selling directly to seafood distributors. With the future of Louisiana fisheries at stake, now is a critical moment to assess the potential for the establishment of a broad-based institution that centers our fishing communities and can cultivate shared power to advance outcomes that benefit the collective.  Specific fisheries, including oyster, shrimp, and crab, that are already experiencing environmental and climate-related impacts as well as those likely to change due to the operations of the sediment diversions within the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority’s Coastal Master Plan are to be prioritized within this work.

Key pressures impacting Louisiana fishing communities could potentially be addressed through a locally or regionally and cooperatively owned intermediary. This type of institution might navigate the strains of environmental change and shifting market forces by providing the organizational structure to sell to optimal markets, yielding collective bargaining capacity, reducing the burden of inputs and costs for individual fishermen, increasing take home wages while distributing shared costs, and housing administrative, logistical, and processing services. Shifting economic control to a fisheries cooperative may deepen support for industry and build wealth for fishing communities through adaptation measures. 

Overview of Report:

This exploratory report should include an analysis of challenges, vulnerabilities, and successes of existing cooperatives and processing intermediaries, a nuanced perspective on the unique challenges and opportunities of the legal and policy landscape in Louisiana, an overview of potential impacts that could be achieved with future investment, and a proposed structure or set of structures for a Louisiana-based and cooperatively owned fisheries intermediary.

While the successful applicant will be responsible for the research design and production of the research report, an outline of the content important to FFL is as follows:

  • Analysis of challenges, vulnerabilities, and successes of existing cooperatives and processing intermediaries
    • Existing models, with a specific focus on those that prioritize outcomes for racial equity
      • Assessment of life cycles of these models highlighting the stages of their structural development
    • Structures and bases:
      • Composition of cooperative owners: 
        • Demographics of fishers, dock owners, processors
        • Motivations for participation for various stakeholders 
        • Intended outcomes
        • Role or absence of racial equity
      • Governance structures/board composition
      •  Staffing models
      • Financial composition/economics of structure, financial viability 
    • Capacity for influence: 
      • Role of base/member demographics in building power for advocacy and/or influencing policy 
      • Market influence, specifically cost reduction
      • Scale of operation, Louisiana-based or gulf wide
    • Challenges and Vulnerabilities
  • Summary of Louisiana specific policies and laws related to the viability of establishing a Louisiana fisheries cooperative structure
    • History of any previous examples and explanation for failures or successes
  • Summary of potential funding models with a specific focus on public sources; leveraging public dollars through philanthropic and/or private investment also encouraged  
  • Potential Impacts that could be achieved with future investment, including research/investigation that includes but is not limited to the areas listed below:
    • Administrative capacity and technical assistance: 
      • Role in business planning or management
      • Insurance provision 
      • Access to capital
      • Administrative and accounting services
      • Government vendor processing and documentation
    • Improvements in wealth building potential and capital access for fishing families:
      • Role in leveraging assets and increasing access to capital
      • Targeted wealth building priorities for disadvantaged communities
    • Enhanced disaster resilience:
      • Role in disaster response, recovery, and risk mitigation
      • Improve transportation and distribution networks, processing and/or micro processing infrastructure: 
        • Role in logistics management
        • Cooperative use/owners for equipment
    • Diverse and stable workforce: 
      • Role in workforce training and business development, prioritizing Black, Indigenous, and Community of Color owned Businesses
    • Industry storytelling/marketing: 
      • Role in identifying markets, Branding and/or storytelling
  • Proposed structure or set of structures of intermediary and potential next steps 
    • Concrete recommendations for implantation in the Louisiana fisheries context

Timeline, Compensation, and Submission:

Interested parties should submit a proposal narrative outlining their skills and qualifications to undertake a research project of this scope.  The proposal should include a timeline with dates of key deliverables working against a final report delivery date of July 1, 2022.  Please include a resume/CV and/or descriptions of key staff members (if applying as an organization) as well as a detailed budget.  Proposals should not exceed a maximum budget of $50,000.00.  Proposal materials, including relevant attachments, should not exceed 12 pages. 

Please send application materials to Nathan Rupp, Senior Economic Justice Fellow, via email, at nrupp@foundationforlouisiana.org. Applications must be received by 5pm CT on Tuesday, November 16, 2021. 

We encourage applications from people with disabilities and are available to discuss reasonable accommodations for any applicant who may need them.   To inquire about accommodations, please email the address listed above or call FFL at (225)383-1672 or email cgaulden@foundationforlouisiana.org.  Please refrain from making phone calls for any reason other than to request application accommodations. 

Equal Opportunity 

FFL is committed to ensuring that all grants and contracts are solicited, reviewed, and awarded in such a way to reflect the Foundation’ mission and values. 

FFL does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, pregnancy (including childbirth, lactation, and related medical conditions), national origin, age, physical and mental disability, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, genetic information (including characteristics and testing), military and veteran status, and any other characteristic protected by applicable law.

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