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U.S. catfish farmers have been reeling from feed costs that rose above $400 per ton in 2008.
Normally, most would try to pass those on to consumers, but imports of foreign fish, much of them grown in unsanitary conditions, have kept pressure on wholesale prices for U.S. farm-raised catfish.
Fish producers in China have faced similar feed costs, but the Chinese government provides subsidies that keep their prices below those of U.S. growers.
University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff Professor Carole Engle laid out the situation for members of the Delta Council Aquaculture and Farm Policy Committees in Stoneville, Miss.