Catfish Payments

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Alabama Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks said catfish farmers, hurt by low prices and last year's drought, are eligible for federal disaster funds based on the amount of feed they bought last year.

Alabama is the nation's second largest catfish producing state behind Mississippi. The disaster funds, totaling $34 million, will be distributed among the 11 catfish producing states based on feed invoices for 2002.

Ralph Holmes, spokesman for the department, said eligible farmers can apply for the feed credit at the mills where the purchases were made. He said the credits are good only for feed.

Alabama's top commercial catfish producing operations are in the Black Belt counties of Hale, Greene, Dallas, Perry and Sumter counties.

Catfish farmers who need additional information can call the state Agriculture Department at (334) 240-7223 or 1-800-642-7761, extension 7223.