NOXUBEE COUNTY, Miss.(WCBI)-Remember when cotton fields were turned into catfish ponds and a new aqua industry was birthed in Mississippi. The industry is still jumping, but maybe not as high. In the last ten years Mississippi catfish farmers have not been fairing as well.
“Oh it has shrunk about half of what it was 15 to 20 years ago. Its been a lot of changes. Its been good to us but the last couple of years has been real challenging,” said Jeff Lee, Noxubee County Catfish Farmer
“Yeah we get real frustrated because we don’t know what to do. I mean we’re just trying to make it. And the high feed prices, row crop farmers are doing good but us catfish farmers, we are suffering,” said Marc Koehn, Noxubee County catfish Farmer.
Noxubee Catfish Farmer Marc Kohen may have over 200 acres where he works, but with high gas and grain prices, and bankers often careful about lending, he has certainly seen better days. Both Koehn and Lee enjoy what they do, they would just like to see a higher profit margin and lower operating costs.
“And now the last two years its, right today its 472 a ton. That’s right, and that’s today, it changes daily,” says Jeff Lee.
And then there is the ever growing competition with foreign markets and their imports.
Marc Koehn says, “It might be but the American public needs to realize what they are getting from those kinds of fish too. You know that’s not, we got stipulations here, we have to abide by. We can’t use no chemicals in our ponds and those, they are growing their fish faster than we can using chemicals. so its not healthy for the American public to eat that foreign fish but they are coming in by the loads full I hear.”
The next time you order a plate of farm raised catfish, you might want to ask….what farm was it raised on.