Sessions to address local farmers

Published 10:46 pm Friday, August 1, 2008

U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) will meet with catfish farmers, discuss issues important to Alabama’s catfish industry and tour Townsend Kyser’s farm near Greensboro next week.

Sessions will stand before those responsible for the Black Belt’s largest agricultural product. Those same people are also teetering on the brink of economic crisis.

“Senator Session will use this opportunity to field questions from catfish farmers and discuss some of the problems they are facing,” Sarah Haley, a Sessions spokesperson said. “Among those problems are record high energy prices.”

Email newsletter signup

In the past 12 months increases in fuel, electricity and feed have crippled local farmers.

The cost of feed, the main expense for a catfish farm, has risen in the last year from $250 per ton to more than $425 per ton. Alabama’s catfish farmers use about 200,000 tons of feed annually.

Catfish feed is comprised of soybeans, corn and wheat — commodities that currently trade at or near record high prices.

Typically, it costs farmers more than 70 cents to produce a pound of catfish. That same catfish will sell for around 70 cents on the open market.

The Black Belt is home to most of Alabama’s 25,000 acres of catfish ponds.