March 03, 2017
By Debra Davis
Alabama’s Townsend Kyser hopes he and other U.S. catfish farmers can get more consumers hooked on the fish they grow. Kyser, 40, was elected Catfish Farmers of America (CFA) president during the group’s annual meeting in Orange Beach, Alabama, Feb. 17. He will serve a two-year term.
Kyser is a third-generation catfish farmer in Hale County near Greensboro where he works with his father and brother. Their family has raised catfish for 50 years.
“I’m honored and excited to have been elected to this position by my peers,” said Kyser, a former state and national Young Farmers Committee Chairman for the Alabama Farmers Federation (AFF) and American Farm Bureau Federation. “I look forward to representing our industry and promoting U.S. farm-raised catfish.”
CFA membership includes farmers nationwide, but most are in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and Texas. In addition to working with The Catfish Institute (TCI), an organization focusing on catfish public relations and advertising, CFA seeks to influence and monitor national legislative policies and politics, Kyser said. Much of the group’s efforts focus on foreign trade, he added.
“Our farmers spent decades investing and building a market for U.S. farm-raised catfish,” Kyser said. “We don’t want to be undercut by imported fish that oftentimes isn’t raised in the clean, safe environment our fish are grown in. Some foreign countries allow the use of chemicals that have been banned in America for years.”
As CFA president, Kyser will serve as a national spokesman for the group whose headquarters are in Indianola, Mississippi.
AFF Catfish Division Director Rick Oates said Kyser is a great voice for catfish farmers.
"Townsend grew up in the industry and is well respected by his peers," Oates said. "He's a great spokesman who understands national policy and how it can influence our farmers' ability to compete fairly with foreign competitors."
Alabama sales of farm-raised catfish increased 10 percent from January 2016 to January 2017 to about $120 million, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Click here to learn more about Kyser and other Alabama catfish farmers.
For more information about CFA, visit USCatfish.com.