In the federal government’s efforts to help farmers and ranchers survive this year’s devastating drought, perhaps the most surprising step has been a dose of support for struggling producers of catfish."
"It’s not that their ponds, shimmering across some of the poorest counties from Alabama to Arkansas, were drying up, although the catfish industry has been shriveling for 10 years.
Rather, catfish assistance came as part of a $170 million federal purchase of pork, chicken, lamb and fish announced in early August, all intended to prop up farmers hit by skyrocketing prices of feed like corn and soybeans. ...
That would be more catfish than the government bought all last year, and enough to put a significant dent in a glut of catfish that has left fish farmers squeezed this year between rising feed costs and falling prices for the fish.
Whether it is enough to head off the continuing collapse of the industry is another question, catfish specialists say."