Mississippi Catfish Farmers Receive Federal Relief
Mississippi catfish farmers received $8.1 million in federal disaster relief for losses sustained during the hot summer of 2006, according to a report in the Delta Farm Press.
Jim Steeby, a Mississippi State University Extension Service catfish specialist based in Belzoni, Miss., helped producers secure the assistance at the request of the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce. Steeby used the data to show that the state's catfish production decreased in 2006 when pond water temperatures exceeded 90 degrees for 35 to 40 consecutive days.
Mississippi, with about 350 catfish farms, is the nation's No. 1 catfish producer. Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana represent about 95 percent of the U.S. catfish harvest.
Last year, 496 million pounds of catfish were processed nationwide, down 12 percent from 2006, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service. At year's end, 15.1 million pounds were in inventory, down 17 percent from the end of 2006.
Farmers received an average of 76.7 cents a pound in 2007, down from 79.5 cents the previous year. Processors received an average of $2.44 a pound in 2007, down from $2.46 in 2006.