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Mississippi Farm-Raised-Catfish Sinking

US - Keith King never imagined his 21 years in the catfish industry would culminate in him turning his back, perhaps for good, on the work he loves so much.

Stung by sky-high feed and fuel prices and competition from cheaper imported catfish, King is draining the ponds at his Aqua Farm operation in Leland, reports Clarion Ledger.

King, president of the Catfish Farmers of Mississippi, said he will grow corn and soybeans - much more profitable crops - in the soil once it dries.

According to Clarion Ledger, it's becoming a common scenario as the state's farm-raised-catfish industry, long one of Mississippi's most successful agriculture sectors, is seeing dozens of operations close and others drain their ponds to grow row crops.

"The times are as difficult as they've ever been," said Roger Barlow, president of The Catfish Institute, a group that promotes the U.S. catfish industry. "We're going through a lot of challenges, a lot of issues."