Help for catfish is on the way

Published 12:00 pm Thursday, June 16, 2016

Mississippi catfish farmers produce more than half of the U.S. farm-raised catfish, but their numbers are dwindling due to a variety of issues.

At the beginning of this century, the catfish industry in Mississippi was vibrant and growing as the fourth-largest product in the state behind poultry, timber and cotton. There were more than 111,000 acres of catfish being farmed in the state. But due to rising prices of catfish feed made of corn and soybeans, increased competition from abroad and a weakened economy, there are less than 40,000 acres devoted to catfish farming in our state.

Couple these issues with strict government regulations that their Asian competitors are not currently required to meet, and it’s easy to see why Mississippi catfish farmers may be discouraged. But help may be on the way. Beginning in 2017, the USDA will be inspecting all imported shipments of catfish, which does not sit well with some U.S. senators who say it will hamper trade relations and cost the federal government more money. We believe the safety of imported food should be a priority.

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We also ask that the next time you decide to go to the local catfish house for supper, make sure you are eating Mississippi farm-raised catfish. Not only will you be supporting our state’s catfish farmers, but also we think it just tastes better.