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Gulf Tightens Catfish Programme

WASHINGTON, US - Alabama, Mississippi and other Gulf states have changed the way they distribute federal grants to catfish farmers after an audit found that millions of dollars in hurricane aid may have gone to farmers who suffered little or no losses from the storms.

According to Bob Evans of the Associated Press, the new approach is in response to an Agriculture Department inspector general report last fall that said lax oversight led to "significant disparities" in how states distributed grants after the devastating 2005 hurricane season that included Katrina, Rita and other storms.

The audit reviewed $25 million in grants that USDA's Farm Services Agency gave catfish farmers and other aquaculture operations such as crawfish and shrimp farms.