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January 08, 2010   Email to Friend 

CATFISH CHECKOFF REFERENDUM SET FOR FEB. 25
Darryal Ray
(334) 613-4187
January 08, 2010

Alabama catfish producers will go to the polls Feb. 25, to decide whether the state catfish checkoff program should be continued for five more years beginning March 9, at the current rate of 50 cents per ton of feed manufactured or sold in Alabama. Producers who have purchased feed within 30 days of the referendum will be eligible to vote.

Alabama law requires a statewide producer referendum to be held every five years to determine whether the program should be continued. If approved, checkoff funds are used to finance research, education and promotion activities aimed at further developing the state's multi-million-dollar catfish industry.

"Since 1994, U.S. catfish feedmills have contributed $5 per ton of feed produced for catfish promotion through The Catfish Institute," said Townsend Kyser, chairman of the Alabama Catfish Producers. "As a result, we have been able to use Alabama checkoff dollars to fund research programs that directly benefit farmers."

Thanks to improved fish health, genetics and environmentally sound management practices developed by researchers, Kyser said Alabama's catfish industry is now a $500 million-a-year business. Much of that growth, Kyser said, has happened since the first checkoff referendum in 1989, which was approved by almost 92 percent of the voters.

According to the Alabama Catfish Producers, Alabama catfish growers purchased 191,784 tons of feed in 2008, compared to 46,000 tons in 1989. "Even with the last year or two being difficult, that is still a strong indication of how far this industry has come in the last 20 years," Kyser said.

Although the program is voluntary, Kyser said the checkoff has experienced 100 percent participation from catfish producers for the past 15 years.

Funds collected from feed manufacturers are remitted to the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries, which turns over the funds quarterly to the Alabama Catfish Producers, a division of the Alabama Farmers Federation. A producer committee representing Alabama Catfish Producers members from all over the state determines how the funds are distributed.

On Feb. 25, Alabama catfish producers will be able to vote between 8 a.m. and the close of business at the county polling sites listed below. No proxy voting is allowed, and no ballots will be accepted by mail.

For more information, contact Mitt Walker at 1-800-392-5705, ext. 4757, or by email at mwalker@AlfaFarmers.org.

This referendum is authorized by Acts of 1987, No. 87-587 or Alabama's Regular Session, as amended by Acts of 1993, No. 93-625.

Download List Of Polling Places For Catfish Referendum


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