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Value of catfish sales drops 8 percent

US. catfish sales totaled $445 million in 2007, down 8 percent from $484 million the previous year, according to USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, and Louisiana accounted for 94 percent of the total U.S. sales.

Direct sales to processors accounted for 94.4 percent of total food-size fish sales, compared with 95.7 percent from the previous year. Direct sales to other producers accounted for 95.5 percent of stocker sales, compared with 85 percent in 2006.

Water surface acres dedicated to catfish production as of Jan. 1, 2008, totaled 155,000 acres, down 6 percent from the 164,000 acres last year. Of the total acres, 3,610 acres are to be renovated from Jan. 1 to June 30, 2008. An additional 500 acres are under construction or expected to be constructed and in use by July 1, 2008.

Mississippi has over 73,000 acres dedicated to food-size catfish production, almost 3 times more than the 25,000 acres in Arkansas. Louisiana has a little over 5,000 acres dedicated to food-size catfish.

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