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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