U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., led a letter by New England senators 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.In the letter, the group of senators – which also included Kirsten Gellibrand, D-N.Y., Ben Cardin, D-Md., and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I. – urged the committee members to advocate for changes to the Whole Farm Revenue Protection to benefit shellfish farmers.
The senators are also hoping to amend Section 11122 of the committee draft of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 in order to allow the Risk Management Agency to treat different growth stages of aquaculture species as separate crops.
“Demand for shellfish has continued to skyrocket, creating many opportunities for producers to expand operations and create jobs,” they wrote. “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,” they continued, “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.”