Aquaculture—farming water for food as opposed to fishing it—is as old as civilization. The Romans did it; so did Mrs. Martin Luther. But catfish farming is an American industry, something of a native-born wonder. As I mentioned previously, catfish farms revitalized a vast area of the Deep South and provided Americans coast to coast with a relatively healthy and affordable protein—to the tune of 662 million pounds of farm-raised American-grown catfish in the year 2003, which was the peak, according to the Mississippi State University.
Then came Vietnam.
The revival of the U.S. steel industry has been a goal of the Trump administration, a component of the MAGA agenda that got him elected in November 2016. That this industry needs reviving is a result of several factors, but a big one is steel-dumping; barges of cheap or even free steel sent over the Pacific by Asian producers not subject to American regulations or wage requirements, with the intent of flooding our market with cheap product that, in turn, would create an advantage for the foreign producers by bankrupting domestic ones.
Asian producers have done the same with “catfish.”
That’s why the peak year for the American farm-raised catfish industry was 15 years ago. For it was around then that Vietnam began dumping something labelled “catfish” into American markets.