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US$50 Million Stimulus to Feed Farmed Fish

US - The United States is about to spend $50 million on fish food.

The money included in the federal stimulus package is intended to help keep afloat an aquaculture industry already struggling from foreign competition after feed prices jumped 50 per cent last year, says the SunHerald.

It could provide algae to feed clam and oyster larvae along the Pacific coast, fill the bellies of tilapia in Arizona and feed catfish, trout and gamefish in the Midwest and South says the news organisation. Supporters say it will help keep fish farms going in tough times and preserve jobs in areas that have been hit by the recession and lack other industries.

The push for the fish rescue started with producers in Arkansas and the South. The aquaculture industry was worth $1.4 billion in sales in 2007, the most recent year for which the U.S. Department of Agriculture has figures. Catfish account for one-third of those sales, and the leading producers are Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas.

Many fish farmers live in poor areas and are struggling with a "double whammy" of higher feed and electricity costs and increased foreign competition, said Mike Freeze, vice president of the Pine Bluff, Ark.-based National Aquaculture Association. He and his partner saw feed prices jump about 50 per cent in one year.

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