Star Local News
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) on Tuesday sent a letter to U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R- Kan.) and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) advocating for better insurance options for shellfish farmers and the aquaculture industry. Unlike traditional farmers, shellfish farmers do not have access to adequate insurance options. In the letter, the senators urge the committee members to advocate for changes to the Whole Farm Revenue Protection to benefit shellfish farmers. In addition to Cardin, U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) signed the letter.
 
“Shellfish farming is an important and growing industry in each of our states. …Demand for shellfish has continued to skyrocket, creating many opportunities for producers to expand operations and create jobs. Supporting this growth and giving shellfish farmers the tools to expand is vital to the health of coastal economies and communities in our states,” wrote the senators.
 
The senators continued, “Despite the importance of this industry, current insurance options are inadequate and often hamstring farmers from expanding their operations. Shellfish farmers are at a high risk of losing their crop because of weather events, diseases, and changes in the marine environment. These risks amplify the need for farmers to have workable, affordable insurance options like those available to land farmers.”
 
Full text of the letter can be found below:
 
Dear Chairman Roberts and Ranking Member Stabenow,
 
We write today to urge you to amend Section 11122 of the committee draft of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 in order to allow the Risk Management Agency (RMA) to treat different growth stages of aquaculture species as separate crops. Proposed legislative language to address this issue is attached. In addition, we ask that you include the language below in the report accompanying the 2018 Farm Bill. These two changes both address the lack of viable insurance options for aquaculture farmers.
 
Shellfish farming is an important and growing industry in each of our states. In 2015, shellfish farmers produced 45 million pounds of oysters, clams and mussels with an estimated value of $295 million. Since then, demand for shellfish has continued to skyrocket, creating many opportunities for producers to expand operations and create jobs. Supporting this growth and giving shellfish farmers the tools to expand is vital to the health of coastal economies and communities in our states.
 
Despite the importance of this industry, current insurance options are inadequate and often hamstring farmers from expanding their operations. Shellfish farmers are at a high risk of losing their crop because of weather events, diseases, and changes in the marine environment. These risks amplify the need for farmers to have workable, affordable insurance options like those available to land farmers.
 
Thank you for your continued work to reauthorize the Farm Bill and support shellfish farmers. These two changes are vital the growth of the shellfish industry in our states and we believe the 2018 Farm Bill is only strengthened by their inclusion.
 
Sincerely,