Hugh Warren, executive director of CFA, said that the ruling confirmed the concerns of the U.S. catfish industry. “We are gratified by the Commerce Department’s decision,” he said. “We have known that the prices of the Vietnamese fillets were well below a commercially reasonable level, even given lower labor costs in Vietnam. The Department’s investigation has confirmed this. This ruling is an important step in bringing much needed relief to our industry.”

“We are very pleased with the Department’s decision, which was based on a very careful and detailed investigation of all the facts and followed its previous practices and methodologies,” noted Valerie Slater of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer and Feld, counsel to the U.S. industry.

The CFA and eight individual U.S. catfish processors filed an antidumping petition with the U.S. International Trade Commission and the U.S. Department of Commerce on June 28, 2002.

The International Trade Commission is now evaluating whether the unfair imports have caused material injury to the domestic industry and must issue a final determination by July 31. If the Commission makes a final affirmative determination, an antidumping order will be issued.

The U.S. farm-raised catfish industry employs more than 13,000 workers, including many family farmers, in Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama, and nine other states. Catfish farming is the largest aquaculture industry in the United States.

e-mail: flaws@primediabusiness.com