Shrimp in tank

Midland Co. shrimp swim laps inside their saltwater tank in Story City. The company’s unique approach to light encourages the shrimp to stay near the surface and consume food, which also leads to the aquatic critters excitedly jumping and moving around near the surface.

Farmers take a look at an emerging industry with aquatic livestock

January 27, 2022 | Joseph Hopper

Iowa farmers aren’t just raising crops, hogs or cattle; they might be feeding or raising the emerging aquaculture industry in the state.

The Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers (CSIF) hosted the 2022 Iowa Aquaculture Conference recently, with panelists explaining how to become involved in the industry putting fish and shrimp on consumers’ plates and how soy and dried distillers grains (DDGs) play an important role in aquaculture production.

Grant Kimberley, Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) director of market development, told the conference audience there is room for the aquaculture industry to grow in Iowa and the United States.

“Aquaculture is very big for our industry,” says Kimberley. “Right now, we’re seeing somewhere between 500 to 600 million bushels of soybeans that are being fed to fish globally and we think that could continue to grow further.”

Several farmers attending the conference also toured two Iowa aquaculture operations as part of the conference – Midland Co. of Story City and Eagle’s Catch of Ellsworth. Though each business produces different products—Midland Co. raised shrimp and Eagle’s Catch produces tilapia—both use soy as a main ingredient in their feed.

Jackson Kimle, president of Midland Co., told the touring conference attendees soy is part of his shrimps’ diet, explaining most diets are comprised of 15 to 30% soy once past the early stage.

ISA District 9 Director Tom Adam, who farms in southeast Iowa, said it was a neat opportunity to get an up-close look at the industry and its aquatic livestock.

“This is exciting,” says Adam. “Hopefully this can really take off.”