U.S. Sen. Katie Britt helped convince the Department of Agriculture to buy up to $42 million of surplus domestic catfish for nutrition assistance programs and charitable organizations.
Britt (R-Montgomery) and Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) contacted Agricultural Marketing Service Director Bruce Summers on January 19th as an extra push to a congressional request a year earlier.
“This week’s important emergency action by the USDA will help stabilize our state’s and nation’s domestic farm-raised catfish markets,” Britt said. “This is crucial, because food security is national security. I will continue to fight for hardworking Alabamians who provide American-made goods and products vital to our local communities, our state, and our country.”
The letter discussed how inflation was taking a major toll on the farm-raised catfish industry and also spoke of the personal value of the farmers and processors in the business.
“U.S. catfish farmers and processors are an important part of rural America, the backbone of our country,” the letter said. “They provide thousands of jobs in some of the most rural and underserved areas in the nation, while putting safe, wholesome, and unadulterated protein on our plates. It is important to assist this industry against multiple economic pressures they face.
“The catfish industry deserves to be included in the next USDA round of … purchases.”
Alabama is the No. 2 catfish-producing state in the nation. In 2021, the Yellowhammer State produced close to one-third of the total pounds of catfish sold in the country. The sales in 2021 amounted to more than $1 billion, the second highest total of any state.
Austen Shipley is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News.