Corn Prices Leave Catfish Farmers Gasping

Southern farmers abandon fish biz as feed prices triple
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 18, 2008 2:14 AM CDT
As many as 10 million catfish eggs, fry and small fingerlings inhabit the Quiver River Aquaculture Inc., hatchery in Moorhead, Miss., June 3, 2008.    (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
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(Newser) – The soaring price of corn and soybeans is moving up the food chain and drying up the South's catfish farming industry, reports the New York Times. Farmers are draining their ponds as the cost of feeding the fish becomes prohibitive. In the Mississippi Delta, heartland of the relatively new industry, thousands of much-needed jobs are disappearing.

Cheap imports and shifts in consumer demand have added to the woes of catfish farmers. For many, the jump in corn prices after Midwest flooding was the last straw. “What’s happening to this industry is sad, but being sentimental won’t pay the light bill," said the head of one of the biggest catfish operations. Its ponds will be drained this year—and the land planted with corn and soybeans.