Aquaculture Boosts Economies in Western Minnesota and Nationwide
The following is an op-ed that ran in Stonger America Through Seafood on January 22, 2020.
Farmers in Minnesota and around the country are raising a new livestock breed, but these aren’t the turkeys, hogs, and dairy cows farm states are known for. Some innovative farmers in my district and nationwide are seeing the potential of domestic aquaculture to produce everything from shrimp to tilapia to salmon here in the U.S.
Right now, we import most of the seafood we consume. More domestic aquaculture means more options for a safe source of nutritious and high-quality seafood. Innovative farmers in places like Western Minnesota are exploring ways to meet this market for high quality seafood while creating demand for their products at a time it is sorely needed. The trade war has significantly harmed farm income, which plays such an important role in rural economic health, and also hurt demand for the crops and livestock that farmers produce.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the value of aquaculture products sold rose more than ten percent between 2013 and 2018. We have the resources and ability to produce even more high quality and sustainable seafood domestically. We’ve already seen businesses invest in rural communities, and our soybean farmers are ready to provide more high-protein soybean meal to both inland and coastal aquaculture facilities as future investments are made in this promising industry.
Recent successes in this industry show the exciting potential for new jobs, high-quality foods, and new markets for agricultural products that have and can be created through domestic aquaculture. That’s why aquaculture’s future is so encouraging for inland rural areas, coastal urban centers, and everywhere in between. That’s also why I’m working to support its development in Congress.
In the last Congress, I cosponsored the Advancing the Quality and Understanding of American Aquaculture (AQUAA) Act, which paved the way for investment in aquaculture research and promotion as well as a streamlined framework for offshore aquaculture permitting. I look forward to continuing to work on these important issues in this Congress.
-By Rep. Collin C. Peterson, Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture