Rising gas costs part of catfish farmers recent pain

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 3, 2008

The Selma Times-Journal

In 37 years, David Pearce hasn&8217;t seen a catfish-growing season quite like this one.

Rising costs of fuel and feed, coupled with other changes in the industry, are creating a dynamic that makes it harder to simply break even in the business for the upcoming year.

Email newsletter signup

Pearce&8217;s catfish farm is located in the Browns area of Dallas County and is 1,400 acres of ponds. The farm produces between 12 and 13 million pounds of fish per year and is distributed across the nation through processor Southern Pride Catfish Co.

The cost for the feed has gone from around $250 a ton to between $380 and $410 a ton.

According to Pearce, for every $10 feed costs rise, farmers&8217; cost of production goes up a penny.

A bill currently going through the Alabama legislature would require that all restaurants identify where their catfish came from, so consumers will be informed. Pearce said between 75 and 80 percent of commercial catfish are consumed in a restaurant setting.

Sam Givhan, president of the Dallas County chapter of the Alabama Farmers Federation, has 250 acres of water and 350 acres total for catfish production. He also grows wheat, beans, and raises cows, and he is in favor of the bill.