US - The USDA catfish production report has now been reinstituted. In 2012 the three major states, Mississippi, Arkansas and Alabama had 78,300 acres in production with an estimated food fish inventory of 160 million fish. The report for July 2014 however shows the industry to be 63,700 acres, down 18 per cent over the past two years, writes to Jim Steeby, .
The estimated fish inventory is also down 25 per cent at 119 million fish.
Speaking with the manager of Fish Belt Feed plant about current conditions, it seems that feeding this year is right on track with last year.
Given our cold spring this year it is a bit of a surprise, but growers have been feeding aggressively as the fish price is good at around $1.15-$1.22 per pound, with no deducts for small or large fish.
Processors are actively looking for fish as sales have remained strong. One complication which has just become evident is a shortage of soybean meal.
This year, soybean and corn harvests are expected to be very good but they will not be in the feed pipeline until October or November.
Until then, feedstuffs are in short supply as little is left from last year’s harvest. As a result, catfish feed has jumped from $380/ton to $440/ton in recent days. This condition will likely persist until late fall when the feeding season will essentially be over.
A long warm fall is now needed to finish out the current fish inventory.