Catfish sale

Paul Wilson, manager of Arrowhead Catfish Farm in Columbus, Mississippi, guides a basket containing 2,000 pounds of catfish into a transport truck that will haul the fish to a processing plant. The USDA has announced a plan to buy some of the Mid-South's excess catfish supply.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will buy catfish products for distribution to various food nutrition assistance programs.

These purchases are commonly referred to as Section 32 "Bonus Buys." The purchases are not funded through taxpayer dollars but are instead funded through customs receipts collected by the U.S. Government from imported products.

“Section 32” purchases have the purpose of encouraging domestic consumption by diverting them from the normal channels of trade and commerce.

A solicitation to producers will be issued in the near future, and will be available electronically through the Web-Based Supply Chain Management (WBSCM) system. Interested parties shall be responsible for ensuring that they have the most up-to-date information about this acquisition. The contract type is anticipated to be firm-fixed price. Deliveries are expected to be to various locations in the United States on an FOB destination basis.

State agriculture department leadership from the major catfish producing states of Arkansas, Mississippi, Texas, Alabama and Louisiana submitted a letter of support to Secretary Sonny Perdue regarding the request from the catfish industry for the USDA purchase of surplus catfish products.

"Aquaculture and catfish production is an important segment of Arkansas agriculture," said Arkansas Agriculture Secretary Wes Ward. "We appreciate Secretary Perdue's support of this important industry and his understanding of the impact that

this industry and its producers have on our state's rural areas. This approval not only helps the industry but also helps to make sure that a healthy protein is available for food nutrition assistance programs."

According to a recent Catfish Production Report from the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), Arkansas catfish producers had 10.3 million foodsize fish on January 1, 2018, up 61 percent from one year ago. Arkansas catfish growers had foodsize fish sales of $18.1 million during 2017, up 7 percent from 2016.

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