Written by: Guest | June 30, 2021
By: Mikayla McKenna, AFIA communications intern
Did you know that aquaculture is an industry that makes up 613,000 tons of the total 283.8 million tons of feed consumed in the United States? The American Feed Industry Association is proud to represent this important segment of the feed industry.
I recently had the opportunity to talk with Jason Smith, Director of Sales at Daybrook Fisheries Inc. and chair of the AFIA Aquaculture Committee. The Louisiana native said he was “knee-deep in alligators” about issues impacting this unique industry segment.
Smith’s affiliation with the aquaculture sector of the industry “happened by chance.” He originally started in the feed industry working broadly with every sector. At the time, the exponential growth forecast in the aquaculture feed sector was identified as an area of opportunity compared with other feed to food production sectors, he said.
Each year, the AFIA Aquaculture Committee sets goals to improve the sector. Smith said this year's main goal is a bit different: to re-establish the committee as a whole. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the committee couldn’t meet in-person at meetings or trade shows, so they are now working to get back to business.
He said the aquaculture industry has faced several challenges recently, from supply chain disruptions (specifically due to the pandemic) to low workforce, with not enough people trained to do the work mills require.
“Supply chain disruptions are having an impact due to the dependency of imported feed ingredients within the sector. This negatively impacts the industry by increasing costs due to limited options within feed formulation, which are ultimately passed along to farmers who are already facing tight production margins due to hotel, restaurant and catering sector interruptions lingering from COVID-19 quarantine response. I believe AFIA is proactively addressing this issue by providing timely information on the situation to its members,” Smith said.
Another issue this sector faces is general education around agriculture/agri-businesses. Weeding out the emotions and keeping it completely scientifically based is what is going to be the best, especially for consumers, Smith said.
“Aquaculture produces efficient protein,” said Smith. “Feeding the growing global population while balancing farming and sustainable environmental practices will continue to be the challenge within the coming years. This is why we need consumers to be educated by the industry now.”
Other things the committee is working on this year include: working with the Global Aquaculture Alliance to explore aligning their Best Aquaculture Practices certification program with the AFIA’s Safe Feed/Safe Food certification program, promoting offshore aquaculture in the United States and promoting other new aquaculture opportunities.
If you would like more information on the committee, click here.