USDA approves relief fund for catfish farmers affected by pandemic

Catfish (USDA / MGN)
Catfish (USDA / MGN)(KALB)
Published: Aug. 13, 2020 at 12:03 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Farm-raised catfish is the largest aquaculture industry in the country, especially in Mississippi.

But when the COVID-19 outbreak hit the state, catfish-farmer Shorty Jones had a hard time selling it.

“We couldn’t sell our fish because the restaurants are all shut down. Seventy to eighty-percent of our catfish is sold to the restaurant industry and so that hurt our sales. And then when we started paying so much unemployment, the workers pushed going to the work to process the fish,” said Jones.

Jones said the catfish-farming industry has lost about 29 percent of its revenue. A recent change from the U.S. Department Agriculture could relieve some of this deficit.

“By getting this stimulus package, money is been able to aid the farmers to be able to sustain through this,” said Jones. The Coronavirus Food Assistance Program now extends to catfish-farmers.

Farmers have until September 11th to apply online. Jones said it’s a step in the right direction.

“The Mississippi is a driving force of the industry. But when Mississippi hurts, the industry hurts as a whole,” said Jones.

Copyright 2020 WLBT. All rights reserved.

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