Fisheries deserve local support

Published 11:52 pm Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Congressman Artur Davis, an outspoken advocate for Alabama catfish farmers, today called upon the U.S. International Trade Commission to continue its antidumping duty order on Vietnamese imports.

In a letter circulated by Davis, southern Members from both political parties urge the USTR to “recognize the tremendous importance of the farm-raised catfish industry to each of our states, and the crippling effect that revocation of the antidumping duty order would have on the thousands of jobs that the industry supports.”

Not only does eating Alabama-raised catfish support a multi-million dollar business that keeps the Black Belt afloat, it keeps us safe from disease.

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Heath and inspection practices are far inferior compared to those used to grade exports from the United States.

Davis helped to persuade the U.S. Department of Commerce to institute the original antidumping order in 2003 as the Vietnamese flooded the market with imported basa and tra fillets at prices 44 to 64 percent below fair value, threatening collapse the domestic catfish industry.

According to the Alabama Farmers Federation, the combined production and processing segments of the Alabama catfish industry have an economic impact of nearly $500,000,000 and employ approximately 2,700 workers.  ALFA ranks Hale County as the highest-producing county, delivering 44 percent of Alabama’s catfish in 2005.

Greene County comes in second at 15 percent, followed by Dallas County at 14 percent,Perry County at 13 percent, Marengo County at 5.5 percent and Sumter County at 1.4 percent.

Those are a lot of local jobs that depend on the patronage of our friends and neighbors.