Catfish Farms Closing, Chickens Next.

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Seacowboys, May 2, 2011.

  1. Seacowboys

    Seacowboys Senior Member Founding Member

    LELAND, Miss. — Catfish farmers across the South, unable to cope with the soaring cost of corn and soybean feed, are draining their ponds.
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    [​IMG]Slide Show High Feed Costs Strain Catfish Market


    Times Topics: Catfish

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    “It’s a dead business,” said John Dillard, who pioneered the commercial farming of catfish in the late 1960s. Last year Dillard & Company raised 11 million fish. Next year it will raise none. People can eat imported fish, Mr. Dillard said, just as they use imported oil.
    As for his 55 employees? “Those jobs are gone.”
    Corn and soybeans have nearly tripled in price in the last two years, for many reasons: harvest shortfalls, increasing demand by the Asian middle class, government mandates for corn to produce ethanol and, most recently, the flooding in the Midwest.
    This is creating a bonanza for corn and soybean farmers but is wreaking havoc on consumers, who are seeing price spikes in the grocery store and in restaurants. Hog and chicken producers as well as cattle ranchers, all of whom depend on grain for feed, are being severely squeezed.
    Perhaps nowhere has the rise in crop prices caused more convulsions than in the Mississippi Delta, the hub of the nation’s catfish industry. This is a hard-luck, poverty-plagued region, and raising catfish in artificial ponds was one of the few mainstays.
    Then the economics went awry. Feed is now more than half the total cost of raising catfish, compared with a third of the cost of beef and pork production, according to a Mississippi State analysis. That makes catfish more vulnerable. But if the commodities continue to rocket up — and some analysts believe they will — other industries will fall victim as well.
    Keith King, the president of Dillard & Company, calculates that for every dollar the company spends raising its fish, it gets back only 75 cents when they go to market.
    “What’s happening to this industry is sad, but being sentimental won’t pay the light bill,” Mr. King said.
    Dillard and other growers take their fish, still squirming, to Consolidated Catfish Producers in the hamlet of Isola, where workers run the machinery that slices them into filets. With fewer fish coming in, Consolidated Catfish is resorting to layoffs.
    One hundred employees were let go in the last month, and an additional 200 will be cut soon. President Dick Stevens predicts that by the end of the year the company will have jobs for only 450, about half the number at its peak. That might not be enough to keep the plant open.
    “The industry is going to implode,” Mr. Stevens said. He blamed the government’s ethanol mandates for making fuel compete with food for the harvest of the nation’s farmland. “Politicians were in a rush to do something, and it became a terrible snowball.”
    Across the highway, one of the local feed mills, Producers Feed Company, has already shut down. The ripple effects have begun: between the grain mill and the fish plant was Peter Bo’s Restaurant, locally celebrated for, naturally, its catfish. Hanging on the door is a “for rent” sign.
    Some catfish producers recently switched to a feed based on gluten, a cheaper derivative of corn, to reduce their costs. But corn gluten transportation and prices were particularly hard hit by the Midwest floods.
    “As sick as we were over what happened to the Iowa farmers, we were also sick over what was going to happen to us,” Mr. Stevens said.
    It is a feeling echoed by others who depend on corn and soybeans.
    In the spring, hog farmers thought they were past the worst. Export sales to China were strong. Corn appeared to level off. Some farmers sought an edge by reformulating pigs’ diets and reducing the weight at which they sent the animals to the packer.
    “And then corn goes up another buck, and you’re back where you were,” said Dave Uttecht, a producer in Alpena, S.D., who raises 70,000 pigs a year.
    “I’m a farmer. I’m used to peaks and valleys.” Mr. Uttecht said. “But this is like falling into the Grand Canyon.”
  2. Seacowboys

    Seacowboys Senior Member Founding Member

    I went to the store yesterday to buy some catfish. I was shocked to see that it was over $8.00 a pound, more than twice the cost of Grouper. The lady there told me that all the catfish fams were closing; guess I know why now.
  3. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    What is the price of a good Beef Steak today? Just remember and NEVER forget, that our FRIEND ALGORE, said, "This is ALL Good for the EARTH." What a Poser.....
  4. TnAndy

    TnAndy Senior Member Founding Member

    I just stocked another 100 3" catfish in my ponds when the fish truck came thru last week. They will grow to 18-20" in two years and filet out 3 meals for 2 of us then. Have a bunch in the ponds now I need to catch out, and put in the freezer, or have a big fish fry. I feed a commercial catfish food, 200lbs does me for the year......about 80 bucks.

    I like keeping that much protein swimming around live.
    Clyde likes this.
  5. Seawolf1090

    Seawolf1090 Retired Curmudgeonly IT Monkey Founding Member

    All our local Catfish Farms closed years ago. The Vietnamese-supplied "Cattfish" undercut them and killed the market. You can also find "Mullet" in the stores now, that have bones where NO American Mullet has bones. My dad and I spent years Mullet fishing, and I was raised on it. We got screwed by the Net Ban and other fishing laws andended up burning the mulletboat. I bought a package of 'mullet' at the Publix store - I threw it away, as I couldn't eat it with all those little bones everywhere.......

    Our fishing industry on the Gulf Coast is pretty well wrecked - the BP disaster was just the capper. Bad laws and unlimited & unrestricted imports killed it first.

    Ah well...... I can still go out on Lake Talquin and catch 'free range catfish'! [monkeyeating]
  6. Minuteman

    Minuteman Chaplain Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    [fnny] Free range catfish! LOL!! This is going to sound pretty naive, and redneck, but it never occurred to me until I read this thread that people actually bought catfish. I knew there were fish farms but I thought they were for farmers and sportsmen to by fingerlings to restock ponds and lakes. It never occurred to me that it was sold to supermarkets.
  7. Seawolf1090

    Seawolf1090 Retired Curmudgeonly IT Monkey Founding Member

    That's where the local restaurants get their catfish and frog legs!

    But the foreign-raised Tilapia is slowly taking over.

    I have noticed the market demand outstripping supply - the catfish slabs at our local eateries are getting smaller as the prices keep climbing!
    A few years back at The Seinyard restaurant down in Wakulla County, you had to be starved to finish a full Catfish Plate! The Junior Plate was a good meal.
    Now, the full Catfish Plate is barely a meal, and the Junior Plate is for kids.....
    And the price has doubled...... :rolleyes:

    In Lake Talquin, we used to catch only the darned fine Bream along the shore. Then they drew the lake down to do some weed cleanup. When refilled (it is created by a local power-plant dam), the logs all moved, the fishing beds took time to re-establish and the pattern changed. Took Dad and me weeks to get a feel for where the new spawing beds were. And, suddenly we were catching catfish! A LOT of catfish! The gators were thinned out some too, but those remaining were more active afterwards.
  8. Gator 45/70

    Gator 45/70 Monkey+++

    I keep in storage,Hoop net's,Frog gig,Turtle trap's,Alligator hook's,Live Trap,Leg trap's,Cast net's,Gill net,Crawfish trap's and lot's of 22lr...and a 4x8 hog trap that i built last year...just saying...
  9. Hispeedal2

    Hispeedal2 Nay Sayer

    I'm not a huge fan of farm raised catfish anyways. River or lake raised "free grazers" are better for your health (usually).

    I do feel bad for the farmers. We just love to shoot ourselves in the foot.
  10. Falcon15

    Falcon15 Falco Peregrinus

    For folks without a huge amount of space, consider the people of Barbados who farm fish for their family in inflatable above ground pools. Those of you who want a sustainable backyard aqua culture (fish farm) here is a great article from Mother Earth News. It covers several types of back yard aqua culture. Further information on the respective types of aqua culture can easily be researched. We are planning additional pools for tilapia, catfish, carp, and we are looking into shrimp. The name of the game is being self-sufficient:
    Fish Farming
  11. Seacowboys

    Seacowboys Senior Member Founding Member

    Catfish farms were a life-saver for small farmers through-out the South. I prefer wild catfish but catfish is a Southern staple,, almost as popular as grits. Everybody prefers wild fish but most of us eat farm raised much more regularly. Look at the price of chicken too; they are on the same road to perdition.
    Falcon15 likes this.
  12. Falcon15

    Falcon15 Falco Peregrinus

    Small livestock, if you can keep it and care for it, will eliminate a huge reliance on Food Inc. and I recommend the following - rabbits, chickens, goats, fish. All serve multiple purposes, not just meat. Rabbits are super efficient meat producers, give pelts and tons of immediately use fertilizer (rabbit poo does not need to be composted, it is fine straight out of the animal). Chickens - for more than just eggs - feathers and fertilizer. Goats give milk, meat, skins, and fertilizer. Of course, it does not go to say that fruits and veggies are going out of sight. I went to my local store for some quick stuff and cherries...CHERRIES are $6.89 a pound. Last year this time, they were $3.99 a pound. A sign of the times. Of course, if you listen to Ol' Ben - inflation is non-existent. Of course, he is bound by Presidential decree not to factor food or energy into his calculations.
    ghrit and Seacowboys like this.
  13. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    I have yet to see the rationale behind that omission in COL calcs. Insane failure to reflect reality. :rolleyes:
  14. Falcon15

    Falcon15 Falco Peregrinus

    Don't go being of independent thought. Be a good little sheeple. Accept what the Ben tells you...this is not the economy you are looking for...

    The rationale is based on controlling the masses. If Joe Sixpack hears on the news that we are not in an inflationary economy, he will not - on average- question. After all, isn't the news media always truthful? Keep the masses misinformed, and the illusion goes on.
  15. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    And yet, the sheep are rising up to question the pols about why they aren't "doing something" about rising fuel and energy costs. It is hard to ignore rising costs when seen every time you go out, sheep or sheepdog alike. Even our esteemed 5th estate is questioning the CPI vs. reality (sotto voce, but it's bubbling.)

    What's funny (peculiar, not ha-ha) is that the pols can't do a damn thing to fix it beyond thumping their chests and going on record as opposing anything and demanding another study. Control, my dying butt; it is out of control, and all the impediments will do squat other than prolong the agony.

    And the question remains unanswered: What is the rationale for leaving food and fuel off the stats? [dunno] (dot gov's CPI site is notably silent, just says they are not included.) Including food and fuel will bring the CPI way up, but the other stuff (new cars and refrigerators included!!) will dilute the effect (make it less obvious statistically) but the reality is still there. Silliness all around.
  16. Falcon15

    Falcon15 Falco Peregrinus

    The rationale is to keep from increasing interest rates. If we see inflation growing, per Allan Greenspan's interview on the Daily show - way back in 07 link, the Fed will have no choice but to raise the interest rates and that would throttle the stock market and economy (in their eyes). This way, they can keep printing fiat, keep interest rates low, lie about unemployment and inflation and point at the stock market and the low interest rates and say "See? We are not in a recession and/or depression". The simple facts of increasing fuel/food costs are waking up many sheep...but IMO it is too little to late.
  17. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    And so what's so bad about increasing interest rates? It would attract more investment frns (rather than discourage investments) due to the anticipation of increased ROI, although it would also increase the cost of loans for housing, or cars, or a washing machine. There would be a balance based on economics rather than some ephemeral, mystical, or other belief in still waters. So far as I'm concerned, if you can't afford a house, don't buy it. Yeah, yeah, I know, dot gov has a goal of a house for every bleeding heart (liberal or conservative) as an entitlement. Treacle for the masses. I earned my house.

    The failure is regarding a house as an investment, it isn't even close. About as much of an investment as a can of beans would be; it's a purchase, nothing more nor less. All the RE blather of buy now and gain over time sufficient to overcome inflation was, and remains, pie in the sky. There was something to be said for that scheme when Fannie Mae (and Freddie) were invented, but that distinctly tilted the market in favor of inflation as you know, and had a lot to do with debasing the currency (off the gold standard, couldn't find enough of it for reserves.)

    I believe in the laws of supply and demand. Leave it alone, it will control by itself; there's nothing like negative feedback as a control scheme. Feed forward (anticipatory, as in guessing the inflation rates a year or two hence) introduces an instability, and we are in exactly that situation.

    I think we are on the same page. Anyway, the rationale is based on a simplistic scenario of hiding reality in the hope of finding another way to avoid gravity before it takes hold and slaps us with the turf. I think you might be right about too late. And, from this chair, I can't see metals as providing us with wings to glide down rather than smacking the turf. Hard. (But that's another rusty can full of fish bait.)
  18. content

    content On Hiatus Banned

    in 1970, gold was $135 an oz, and gas was 40c a gallon. now gold is $1500 an oz and gas will soon be $5 a gallon. other countries KNOW that we inflate our dollar by printing more of them, so they naturally ask for more of them for the products that they sell us. They are not as stupid as the typical American is.
  19. Falcon15

    Falcon15 Falco Peregrinus

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