You don't know how much happens behind the scenes for aquaculture until you are in the middle of it. It has been a busy 3-4 months. There is a lot that goes on throughout the year and then there are things that come up unexpectedly that must be addressed like storms and legislation. There's NAPP, ELAP, WHIP. We have a lobbyist that we co-fund to support aquaculture. There are many organizations we work with that need our help in order for them to help us like PIJAC and FAA.
There are many members of the board that have volunteered to make things happen. (see list of Committees on page 3). Everyone on that list has to carve out some time in their busy schedules to make things better for all of us. If you would like to volunteer on any of the subcommittees, let David Boozer or I know and we will make it happen. I plan to focus on a couple of these committees each newsletter to let you know what is happening. Much would not be possible without David Boozer there to keep us on track. Thanks!
Aquatic Experience: After several years in Chicago, the event has moved to Secaucus, NJ (across from NYC). The FTFFA was well represented by David Rawlins and me. Being my first extended visit, I was very pleased to see the interest in the aquarium trade from both young and old. There were several other members there representing their businesses. The 'Wall of Fish,' although smaller than in the past, was still a centerpiece. The "Peoples Choice Award" went very well with close to 650 people voting. Results to come later.
ERICA (Efficiency and Renewable Improvements in Commercial Aquaculture): There is still money available to make an energy saving improvement on your farm. It must be to replace something you currently have with something more efficient/ lower energy usage. Some projects I have heard other farmers doing: replacing backup generators, installing a solar system, replacing lighting in buildings, replacing air and water pumps, etc. They will pay 75% of the cost up to $30,000. Who can't use some upgrades?
Fla State Fair: Aquaculture has been chosen to be the centerpiece for the Ag Hall of Fame Building during the Florida State Fair (Feb 7-18). This is a great opportunity for us to let both legislators and residents know the extent of Aquaculture in Florida. The theme is "Aquaculture is Agriculture'. In the almost 2500 sq ft, several commodities will be represented (Alligators, Shellfish, Food Fish, Restoration Aquaculture and last but not least, Tropical Fish and Plants). If you have any ideas or would like to help please contact Mike Drawdy.
FTFFA Coop Store: The store continues to do well. Our major focus for this next year is to determine the most cost effective way to serve the industry. They need more room. We will be looking for the best location versus cost (lease or buy). If you know of an existing building or a commercially zoned lot that would fill our needs let Gary David know.
Tour of FTFFA Members: I started touring some of the farms this past quarter, primarily on the south and east coasts of the state. I received a lot of good information from those I visited in the areas of: The Association, The Coop Store, The Lab, Distributors and Growers. I will continue the tours through the fall. At the end of the tours I will summarize some of the results to determine some changes we can make.