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* Advancing Indiana Aquaculture

March 10, 2009

Aquaculture workshop to help producers get better price for their fish

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Aquaculture producers interested in forming a cooperative have the opportunity to learn how at a March 27 workshop in Lebanon, Ind.

The workshop will focus on the benefits of the cooperative business model and will highlight all the steps necessary to start an Indiana aquaculture cooperative.

"If the market wants 400 pounds of fish every two weeks, one farmer may not be able to meet that quota, but eight farmers can," said Kwamena Quagrainie, Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service aquaculture marketing specialist. "The market demands a consistent supply of product, and by forming a cooperative, producers can work together and plan their production schedules to meet the needs of the market."

Quagrainie also said that a group of producers working together or under one brand have a better chance of getting their asking price than a group of single producers trying to get their product into the market.

The Aquaculture Cooperative Workshop will be from 9 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. at the Boone County Fairgrounds in the Witham Health Services Pavilion, located at 1300 E. 100 S. Registration, which is free, begins at 8:30 a.m., but individuals are asked to preregister by Friday (March 13) online at http://indianafishfarming.com/index.php?option=com_chronocontact&chronoformname=WorkshopReg3  or by calling the Indiana Soybean Alliance at 800-735-0195.

Debbie Trocha from the Indiana Cooperative Development Center will focus on the various aspects of the cooperative model. The program also will include a panel discussion, where panelists will talk about their cooperative experiences in aquaculture, agriculture and other business ventures.

Mark Stewart, an attorney with the law firm Shumaker, Loop and Kendrick LLP, will talk about the legal aspects of a cooperative business and help participants decide if joining or starting a cooperative is the right option for them.

Bill Manci, president of Fisheries Technology Associates, will present an Indiana aquaculture cooperative proposal, and Mark Beckman of the U.S. Department of Agriculture will talk about financing a cooperative.

"There are more than just marketing cooperatives," said Steve Hart, director of aquaculture development for the Indiana Soybean Alliance. "There also are purchasing cooperatives and processing cooperatives.

"The proposal presented by Bill Manci is a proposal to start a tilapia processing facility in Indiana, which would allow tilapia producers to get into the fillet market if they want."

Indiana has 31 aquaculture farms and an annual economic impact of $2.5 million, according to the USDA's 2007 Census of Agriculture. However, Quagrainie believes these numbers are grossly underestimated. Because the industry is small, some companies choose not to report their numbers, he said. Quagrainie estimates the annual economic impact of Indiana's aquaculture industry at about $6 million.

The workshop is sponsored by Purdue Extension, Indiana Soybean Alliance and the Indiana Cooperative Development Center.

Writer: Julie Douglas, 765-496-1050, douglajk@purdue.edu

Sources: Kwamena Quagrainie, 765-494-4200, kquagrai@purdue.edu

Steve Hart, 317-347-3620, Ext. 310, sdhart@indianasoybean.com

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722;
Beth Forbes, forbes@purdue.edu
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