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August 22, 2012   Email to Friend 

Mary Johnson
August 22, 2012

From left: Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries Commissioner John McMillan, Alabama Catfish Producers Chairman Will Pearce, Gov. Robert Bentley, Alabama Catfish Farmer of the Year Kent Houlditch and Hale County catfish farmer Townsend Kyser.
MONTGOMERY, Ala., Aug. 22, 2012 –– Gov. Robert Bentley officially declared August as "Catfish Month" in Alabama by proclamation presented during a catfish appreciation luncheon at the Farmers Market Cafe in Montgomery today.

Bentley, Alabama Agriculture and Industries Commissioner John McMillan and other state leaders enjoyed a catfish meal while saluting the whiskered swimmer and the catfish farmers and processors who provide healthy, safe food.

“Catfish growers and processors in Alabama need our support… not only this month, but as we move into the future,” McMillan said.

McMillan said catfish farmers are facing tough times as fuel prices continue to increase and foreign competition threatens the viability of U.S. farm-raised catfish.

Catfish farms in the state are heavily concentrated in the Black Belt region of West Alabama. In all, catfish production and processing has an estimated $500 million impact on Alabama’s economy. However, the amount of U.S. raised catfish has declined nearly 50 percent since 2003.

Bentley vowed to do what he can to help the catfish farmers and said he wants to promote Alabama’s catfish industry through the state’s Department of Tourism.

“We want the people of Alabama to understand the importance of catfish and what it means to Alabama – all the jobs associated with it, the lives affected by this industry, and the enjoyment people can get out of eating these good farm-raised catfish,” Bentley said.

Alabama Catfish Producers Chairman Will Pearce said the event is a great way to bring attention to the availability of U.S. farm-raised catfish and said every person can help support farmers like him.

“Be aware of what you’re buying when you go to the grocery stores and restaurants,” Pearce said. “Pay attention to country of origin labeling, and help us spread the word about what a safe product U.S. farm-raised catfish is to feed your family.”

The luncheon was sponsored by the Alabama Catfish Producers, a division of the Alabama Farmers Federation; Harvest Select; SouthFresh; and Heartland.

While frying is the traditional cooking method, catfish can be broiled, blackened or grilled. For creative recipes using catfish, visit USCatfish.com.

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