By Per Peterson
You forgot shrimp, Congressman Peterson.
When District 7 DFLer Collin Peterson listed the agricultural commodity items that were likely to be discussed at a listening session at Farmfest on Thursday, he covered almost everything relative to the Upper Midwest — almost everything.
“We were in Mike’s (U.S. House Ag Committee Chairman Michael Conaway, R-Texas) district on Monday and we heard a lot about peanuts and cotton; today you’ll probably hear a little bit about corn and soybeans, dairy and sugar beets and some of the issues from our part of the world,” Peterson, the ranking Democrat, told the large crowd gathered at Gilfillan Estate.
While dozens of farmers and ag leaders, most from Minnesota, had the ears of the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture at the forum, none of them had a subject as unique as Robert Gervais did: shrimp.
Gervais, representing trūShrimp and its affiliate, Ralco, testified in front of 11 members of the House Committee on Agriculture, including Peterson, on the benefits of bringing shrimp production to southwest Minnesota.
“They need to be aware of what we’re trying to do,” he said.
Gervais told the committee members that seafood is a much-needed protein source and said the ocean fisheries that deal with shrimp do not have the capacity for more harvesting. He asked the committee for its support for the continued development of aquaculture as a mainstream source of protein.
“Aquaculture’s a piece of the puzzle that should be supported by any farm bill in the future,” he told the politicians. “Three percent of the U.S. trade deficit is shrimp alone, largely from southeast Asia. It is an industry plagued by disease.”
Thursday’s forum was designed to allow farmers and others to voice their concern about the upcoming farm bill and put their two cents in on what needs to be included in the next piece of legislation. Everything from rural broadband to subsidized food programs was brought up at the event as one farmer after another gave their input at the mic. Afterwards, Peterson said he predicts a good future for trūShrimp
“I think it’s great, I’m 100% behind it,” Peterson said in an interview after the two-and-a-half hour listening session. “I’ve been to Balaton, I’ve seen the system, I’ve seen the projections and I think it’s a tremendous opportunity. We are going to be able to produce domestically what we now are importing from Vietnam. I just think it’s a good way for us to bring that market back and produce it here locally.”
For more on this article, see this week’s Headlight-Herald.