High Corn And Soybean Prices Force Mississippi Delta Catfish Farmers Out Of Business

Catfish-farmThe rising prices of corn and soybeans, which have put a major strain on American farmers this season, may be claiming its first casualty: the Mississippi River Delta catfish farm. According to the New York Times, the input costs for feeding farm-raised catfish has become so exorbitant that farmers across the region are being forced to empty their ponds.

Several years ago, catfish farming was still a $462 million industry. Catfish farms were not only the most successful farmed fish product in the United States, but also the most environmentally friendly. Unlike other farmed fish, catfish ponds have a relatively small impact on the environment, making American farmed catfish one of the most ecologically sound fish on the market. The decline of the catfish industry began to accelerate once cheap Asian fish flooded the market, effectively putting a cap on prices. As the price of the feed for the fish increased, catfish farmers became unable to compete on the global market under these tight constraints.

Unfortunately, these poor economic conditions can’t be completely blamed for the demise of the catfish industry. Always considered to be a local specialty (a slimy, pond dwelling, local specialty to boot), there was a failure to market catfish on the broader United States market. Chilean sea bass, on the other hand, has become a popular dish despite the negative environmental consequences and even less appetizing official name: the Patagonian toothfish.

Now if only someone had the foresight several years ago to rebrand ‘farm-raised catfish’ as ‘southern pond salmon’ or even ‘Mississippi eco-deliciousfish,’ perhaps there still would be a viable industry for them in this country…


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