Catfish Farmers Trying to Stay Afloat

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - Some Alabama catfish farmers are getting out of the business as soaring commodities prices make it tough to profit anymore.

Catfish feed that was selling for $250 a ton has shot up to nearly $410 a ton because of the rising cost of its primary ingredients -- soybeans and corn. The increased prices mean farmers who were getting 57 cents a pound for fish will have to pay between 72 and 74 cents to raise a pound of fish.

Though catfish processors have agreed to pay the farmers 70 cents a pound, some farmers like Ken Owens of Aliceville say it's still not enough. Owens is emptying his 75 acres of ponds after 13 years in the business.

Alabama is the nation's second biggest catfish producer after Mississippi. Most of the state's 25,000 acres of catfish ponds are in the Black Belt region.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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