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Aquaculture is Agriculture: USDA’s Role in Supporting Farmers of Fish and Shellfish

U.S. aquaculture production is growing because demands for healthy seafood products are increasing.

Global stocks of wild-caught seafood have remained stable over the last 20 years, and a growing world population projected to reach over 9 billion in 2050 is expected to exacerbate the demand for seafood products. USDA is providing leadership to ensure that a healthy, competitive, and sustainable aquaculture sector can produce an abundant, safe, and affordable supply of seafood products. USDA activities include:

  • supporting economic development that creates jobs and opportunities in rural communities;
  • designing aquaculture production systems that use aquatic resources for farming while maintaining healthy ecosystems;
  • supporting and conducting research, education, and extension activities that train a skilled work force and support the development of new aquaculture technologies;
  • overseeing aquatic animal health; and
  • providing marketing programs that educate consumers on the nutritional benefits of seafood products and the sustainable management of responsible aquaculture production.

Given USDA’s extensive portfolio of programs supporting aquaculture, the Office of the Chief Scientist, agencies in the Research, Education, and Economics mission area, and the USDA Working Group on Aquaculture sought to provide the domestic aquaculture industry an opportunity to communicate on how USDA can best serve this farming community. In November 2020 USDA agency representatives, as part of an Aquaculture is Agriculture Colloquium, held six virtual “Deep Dive” listening sessions (in addition to an APHIS-WS special webinar for shellfish farmers) to engage stakeholders on the subjects below.

Deep Dive Topic

Event Information

Aquaculture Production Research

November 30, 2020: hosted by NIFA and co-hosted by ARS

Aquatic Animal Health

November 10, 2020: hosted by APHIS and co-hosted by ARS and NIFA

Environmental Management

November 9, 2020: hosted by NRCS and co-hosted by APHIS, ARS, NIFA, and OCE

Production Innovation and Technology

November 20, 2020: hosted by NIFA and co-hosted by ARS and ERS

Product and Consumer Marketing

November 20, 2020: hosted by AMS and FNS

Supporting Aquaculture

November 16, 2020: hosted by RD, FSA, and RMA

Bird Management and Coastal Shellfish Production

February 17, 2021: Hosted by APHIS-WS

These sessions were attended by representatives from USDA, other government agencies, academia, and the private sector. On December 11, 2020, USDA hosted a “Aquaculture is Agriculture: USDA’s Role in Supporting the Farmers of Fish, Shellfish, and Aquatic Plants” (videos 14-22) webinar including plenary presentations from USDA leadership and industry representatives and report-outs from listening session hosts on feedback provided to USDA. The Colloquium provided context for both stakeholders and USDA leadership on how to strengthen domestic aquaculture. USDA leaders and scientists heard directly from aquaculture stakeholders—farmers, scientists, and supporting industries—on prioritized industry research needs, critical needs for resource investments, and how accountability for these investments could be evaluated.

A white paper (PDF, 546 KB) summarizing these events and stakeholder recommendations for how USDA can best serve aquaculture stakeholders can be found here. The agenda for the plenary webinar is below, including links to presentation recordings.

Aquaculture is Agriculture
December 11, 2020 Webinar

Time Presentations

9:00 am

Welcoming and Opening Remarks

Mary Dee Beal, Former Senior Advisor to the Secretary
Dr. Scott Hutchins, Former Deputy Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics
Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young, ARS Administrator, USDA Acting Chief Scientist

9:30 am

Aquaculture Aligns with the Ag Innovation Agenda and the Science Blueprint

Dr. Peggy Biga, Office of the Chief Scientist

9:50 am

USDA’s Role in Updating the National Aquaculture Development Plan

Dr. Jeffrey Silverstein, Agricultural Research Service

10:10 am

Aquaculture Intersects with Agriculture

Dr. Dan Northrup, Benson Hill

10:30 am

Economic Development through Aquaculture

Andrew Jermolowicz, Rural Development

10:50 am

What U.S. Aquaculture Needs from USDA: Aquatic Plants

Stephanie Showalter-Otts, J.D. University of Mississippi School of Law

11:10 am

What U.S. Aquaculture Needs from USDA: Finfish

Jim Parsons, Cooke USA

11:30 am

What U.S. Aquaculture Needs from USDA: Shellfish

Bill Dewey, Taylor Shellfish

11:50 am

Breakout Session Reports

Dr. Caird Rexroad, Agricultural Research Service

12:00 pm

Aquaculture Production Research

Dr. Amrit Bart and Christopher Green, National Institute for Food and Agriculture

12:10 pm

Aquatic Health

Dr. Kathleen Hartman, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

12:20 pm

Environmental Management

Dr. Gene Kim and Jan Surface, Natural Resources Conservation Service

12:30 pm

Production Innovation and Technology

Dr. Tim Sullivan, and Christopher Green, National Institute for Food and Agriculture

12:40 pm

Product and Consumer Marketing

Dr. Carl Schroeder, Agricultural Marketing Service

12:50 pm

Supporting Aquaculture

Andrew Jermolowicz, Rural Development; Christopher Vazquez, Farm Service Agency; and Alex Sereno, Risk Management Agency

1:00 pm


Dr. Peggy Biga, Office of the Chief Scientist

For more information, please contact:

Caird Rexroad
USDA ARS National Program Leader for Aquaculture