LITTLE ROCK — An Arkansas farmer is featured in a new national ad campaign intended to bolster the nation’s struggling catfish industry.
Bill Troutt of Lake Village, Catfish Farmers of America’s 2012 Arkansas Catfish Farmer of the Year, along with award winners from Alabama and Mississippi appear in the industry’s "Made in America" campaign that features the nation’s top farm producers and favorite recipes.
Arkansas, Alabama and Mississippi are the top catfish-producing states in the country.
Troutt and the other farmers traveled to Boston earlier this year to attend that city’s seafood show, and they have been featured in a number of national publications, including the Delta Airlines magazine and Cooking with Paula Deen magazine.
"We are working to provide a sense of place in the nation’s food supply by connecting the catfish fillets people know and love back to our hundreds of family farms that dot the southern U.S.," Roger Barlow, president of the Catfish Institute, said in a news release Monday.
Troutt manages Alice-Sidney Farms in Chicot County, a 7,000-acre operation with about 600 acres of catfish farms.
Troutt, a member of the Arkansas Catfish Promotion Board, said Monday that the industry is struggling.
"It’s not real good," he said. "The biggest problem is with imports and … feed price is so high that we can’t sell at a profitable level."
Growers in Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi and Texas grossed $403 million in 2010, about 8 percent above the previous year, while production acreage declined 13 per cent between 2009 and 2010, according to SeafoodSource.com.
Last year, growers in the state sold $33 million worth of catfish to processors, down down from just under $41 million the year before, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.