SeaFood Business

MAR 2014

SeaFood Business is the global trusted authority for seafood buyers and sellers. We are the seafood industry's leading trade magazine with more than 30 years of experience. Our coverage is based on the "business" of buying and selling seafood.

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Page 38 of 90

Top Species 34 SeaFood Business March 2014 Visit us online at Photos courtesy of The Catfsh Institute Catfsh After tough years, surviving producers ready to take next step BY JOANNE FRIEDRICK U sing words like "stabilize" and "resurrect," U.S. catfsh produc- ers are optimis- tic about their industry af- ter facing several years of challenges from high feed prices, reduced acreage and competition from imports. Tey are also awaiting the impact of the recent deci- sion to change oversight for catfsh inspection. Te outcome of the 2014 Farm Bill included a provi- sion to move catfsh inspec- tion from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to the U.S. Department of Agricul- ture (USDA). A spokesper- son with USDA's Food Safety & Inspection Service says the agency has a proposed rule regarding catfsh inspection and will be working to pub- lish a fnal rule within the ap- propriate time frame. Te agency is also fully prepared to work with all stakeholders, including the FDA, to assure that catfsh inspection is implemented as outlined in the Farm Bill, ac- cording to the spokesperson. Roger Barlow, president of Te Catfsh Institute (TCI), who supported the move, says "consumer confdence is critical" and inspection is an important aspect of that. As to which group should handle the inspec- tions, Barlow points out "we're not fshermen, we're farmers" so USDA was the appropriate body. While some see the new law as harmful to imported catfsh products, Barlow says, "We're in a global en- vironment and this is just part of that. Te American consumer has a reasonable expectation that all prod- ucts should be safe for them to consume." GM Fred Johnson of Su- perior Catfsh Products in Macon, Ga., has mixed feel- ings on the inspection issue. "USDA is quite a diferent breed from FDA," he says, adding that it could have an adverse economic impact on the processor depending on how they have to pay for on- site inspections. But, he adds, "If it helps the quality and safety in the food chain with imports, then I'm for it. I do see the value in USDA-inspected product." When they're not debat- ing inspection programs, catfsh farmers are talking about normal issues such as decreased acreage, and feed and processing prices. U.S. catfsh remains a Southern specialty, with Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas and Texas accounting for 95 per- cent of total sales in 2012, according to the USDA's Na- tional Agricultural Statistics Service. Domestic farmed catfsh sales in 2012 fell to $341 million, down 20 per- cent from 2011's $423 mil- lion. In terms of production, water surface acreage in 2012 Catfsh can be a versatile option for fun and popular dishes like quesadillas. "USDA is quite a different breed from FDA. If it helps the quality and safety in the food chain, I see the value in USDA- inspected product." — Fred Johnson, GM, Superior Catfsh Products 34_38TopSpecies.indd 34 2/18/14 10:28 AM

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