Exploring the opportunity to bring a feed mill dedicated to producing fish feed to Indiana in hopes of building a new market for Hoosier soybean farmers is the intent of a new grant recently awarded to Indiana Soybean Alliance.
ISA, the state soybean checkoff organization, received a Value-Added Producer Grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture earlier this month to conduct a feasibility study on locating a feed mill focusing on aquaculture feeds in Indiana.
"Our Hoosier soybean farmers are committed to helping grow our state’s soybean industry by supporting our state’s aquaculture industry," said Jeanette Merritt, chair of ISA’s aquaculture committee from Peru, Ind. "Aquaculture is a promising and growing market for our soybeans and our board is committed to supporting this industry within the state as we continue to look to help build strong markets for our soybeans."
Currently, most Indiana aquaculture producers import their fish feed from Utah, Pennsylvania or Louisiana. This study will show if it makes sense economically to eliminate the transportation costs associated with shipping soybeans from Midwestern states, like Indiana, to be manufactured into fish feed and then shipping the fish feed to Indiana.
"This grant will allow us to take the next step in determining if Indiana could have enough volume of fish production to justify a feed mill dedicated to aquaculture," said Shelia Lingle, director of aquaculture for the Indiana Soybean Alliance.
If the grant shows that a feed mill focusing on serving the aquaculture industry would be viable in Indiana, it would not only grow a new market for Indiana soybeans, but it could also grow the state’s aquaculture industry as well.
"As part of our long-term strategic plan, ISA has a goal to triple Indiana aquaculture production and build a feed mill in Indiana," said Lingle. "A feed mill closer to the actual commodity for local aquaculture producers just makes sense, especially as soy-based fish feeds become more widely used."
The Indiana soybean checkoff has funded several studies showing soybean meal to be a good substitute for fish meal in various fish species diets. Additionally, ISA has commissioned a study to survey the volume of fish currently produced in a 20-state area touching Indiana. Both of these efforts will provide valuable information for the feed mill feasibility study.
"Industry representatives have been helpful in providing information on ranges of production it would take to justify a dedicated feed mill, but this study will help us refine those numbers," Lingle added. "If the results of the study say that Indiana can support this type of feed mill, the study itself can be a tool for others to use to go out and secure funding – both private and other USDA grants – to help build a feed mill here."
The USDA Value-Added Producer Grant provides $15,000 for the feasibility study with ISA providing matching funds for the study. The USDA grants focus on supporting rural producers and local economies. The ISA grant was one of 110 awarded by USDA in May, including three others in Indiana.
"I am pleased the USDA has recognized the hard work the Hoosier ag community does for their communities and our entire state," said Senator Joe Donnelly in a recent release about this program. "The ag community is the backbone of Indiana’s economy, and the investment in these business owners will allow them to develop better products and create more opportunities for hardworking Hoosiers who want a job close to home."
To learn more about ISA’s aquaculture initiative, visit www.indianasoybean.com.
Source: Indiana Soybean Alliance