Revisiting the catfish economy

Townsend Kyser with a catfish.

Townsend Kyser is a catfish farmer in Alabama.

It's not often you get to talk about catfish noodling on a business program (sticking your hand down in the holes they swim in and hoping they bite) but talk about it we did the last time we had Townsend Kyser on the show. He's a catfish farmer in Greensboro, Alabama who was suffering in the midwest drought last summer.

Kyser says they're doing a lot better since we spoke to him in August. It's rained, and the assistance from the USDA helped stabilize prices. The cost of grain to feed the catfish is still higher than normal.

"Agriculture is a very tightly knit group across the country and when things happen in this area, they affect the whole nation."

He's still thinking about the problems created by the drought, like those higher feed prices. But Kyser is also thinking about the fiscal cliff -- he says farmers like him are paying close attention to the taxes they have to pay.

One bright spot is that Kyser's been able to keep his 18 employees working for the company. He's also hoping to hire a few more next year.

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.

Townsend Kyser is a catfish farmer in Alabama.

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The greatest threat to America's economy is the wholesale neglect of environment and the free-trade agreements that bring in especially food products that have no inspection or verification of sources. We are watching as water's become so polluted along the coast as not to be able to sustain life and we are watching as energy industries are polluting our ground waters with fracking et al to the point of losing fresh, potable water for crops and wildlife.....or for these freshwater catfish.

We know the threats of disease that come with captive breeding, whether it is disease among the fish as is happening in America, our the bacteria from Asian fish that are grown in waters exposes to sewage, etc. If you look at each of these examples, you see that more business is being killed then created by the complete neglect of regulations protecting environment and people.

So why can a corporate lawyer say my clients needs trump your public need? It is the Cost Benefit Analysis analysis put into place in the Reagan years and made permanent by corporate Third Way pols like Clinton and Obama. The voters need to realize these kinds of issues are affected by whom is President and who leads the Senate. If they are corporate pols.....they will go for law enforcement that favors profits over environment or people's health!

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