WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — The 2022 Aquaculture Conference, hosted by the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers (CSIF), recently drew more than 100 attendees to learn more about Iowa’s newest livestock industry. The event was held at the Quality Inn & Suites in Ames.
According to panelist Glenn Ford from InCity Farms, “The high-quality resources that position Iowa as a top producing agricultural state also make it a natural fit for aquaculture production. It’s important for the state to continue to build on the advantages it has.”
Kurt Rosentrater from Iowa State University also noted that aquaculture can be a good way to diversify farming operations and feed a growing world population. “Currently, global aquaculture is the fastest growing animal food-producing sector in agriculture with an annual growth rate of over 6.9% from 1970 – 2006. This growing segment of agriculture could provide opportunities for young and beginning farmers or established farmers looking to grow their farms in the future.”
Attendees saw first-hand how tilapia and shrimp are raised with afternoon tours of Eagles Catch in Ellsworth and Midland Co. in Story City. Like other livestock industries, aquaculture is diverse and complex because it encompasses a variety of different species and management systems.
While the aquaculture industry presents many exciting new ventures for Iowa farmers, it also has its share of hurdles. Adjusting to a profitable scale was one of the major challenges discussed, as well as marketing and identifying and managing risk. A fourth challenge includes navigating environmental rules and regulations.
Successful farm business planning requires vision, a strong network of supporters and a plan for today and tomorrow. That’s why prospective fish farmers are encouraged to reach out to experts like CSIF for assistance with planning, siting and other business considerations.
“The same rules and regulations that apply to traditional livestock species, such as hogs and cattle, also apply to fish and shrimp farming,” says Brian Waddingham, executive director of the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers. “If you’re considering aquaculture, we can provide you with the assistance you need to determine if fish farming is the right fit for your farm, and to feel confident about your decision to explore this growing industry. As Iowa’s livestock industry evolves to include aquaculture, CSIF is here to help.”
To view the presentations from the conference, please visit supportfarmers.com/aquaculture.
— Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers