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Despite difficulties, catfish processing up

Even with total fresh fish prices remaining significantly below last year, and catfish feed prices remaining high — U.S. catfish processing totaled 46.2 million pounds round weight during April 2008, an increase of 22 percent over April 2007.

Net pounds of processed fish sold during April 2008 totaled 21.8 million pounds. The total end of the month inventory increased 12 percent from March 2008.

Total fresh fish prices received by processors finished at $2.31 per pound, still down 26 cents from last year. Fresh whole fish were at $1.55, a drop of 20 cents from 2007.

Catfish feed deliveries in April 2008 were down 9 percent from April 2007, but showed significant improvement from March 2008. April feed delivered to Mississippi catfish growers for foodsize fish totaled 18,222 tons, a 5 percent decrease from last year. Arkansas finished April with 4,770 tons in feed deliveries, down 41 percent from last year. Louisiana received 1,532 tons of feed deliveries, a reduction of 9 percent from the previous year.

Freshwater imports for consumption of Ictalurus spp. (channel catfish and blue catfish) and other catfish species totaled 7.88 million pounds, an increase of 23 percent over imports in March 2007. Catfish imports came from Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Spain, Thailand, and Vietnam.

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