ITTA BENA — Heartland Catfish has announced that employees at its plants in Mississippi and Alabama will face temporary layoffs or reduced hours over the next four months.
The supply will get tighter and tighter between now and the middle of June, Walker said.
Heartland employs about 470 workers at its processing operation in Itta Bena and another 280 in Greensboro, Ala. Workers at both locations were informed of the temporary cutbacks earlier this month, Walker said.
Heartland expects to begin slowly rehiring workers by early summer and be back to full operation by July 1 when new supplies of fish come in, Walker said.
Walker said Heartland gets about 35 percent of its live fish from its own farming operations, but it has been a scramble to come up with enough inventory from its other suppliers.
In Mississippi alone, the nation’s leading catfish-producing state, catfish acreage has fallen by about 40 percent since peaking at 113,000 acres in 2002.
America’s Catch does not foresee a shutdown but does anticipate shorter hours and possibly fewer production days per week until the summer feeding season kicks in. America’s Catch employs about 400 workers at its Itta Bena facility.