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Maryland U.S. Senators put big money towards aquaculture

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (both D-MD) have announced $642,149 in federal funding for the University of Maryland Baltimore County’s (UMBC) aquaculture efforts. The funds will be issued through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), which estimates that nearly two-thirds of fish consumed globally will be produced through aquaculture farms by 2030.

“As demand for food intensifies and concern for environmental sustainability grows, aquaculture has become an increasingly important practice, and Maryland is finding new ways to seize the opportunities aquaculture presents. Our oyster farming industry, for example, has grown a thousand percent since 2012,” said Senator Ben Cardin, a senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “These funds are a federal investment in Maryland’s aquaculture capabilities, and with it, our state’s ability to meet growing demand for affordable, sustainable food. I’m proud of the work UMBC is doing and determined to ensure that all our sustainability programs are fully funded in the years to come.”

“Supporting sustainable agriculture will help not only America’s environment, but also our economy. UMBC does outstanding work in this field, and I’m proud to see this recognition of their success,” said Senator Chris Van Hollen, member of the Senate Appropriations and Agriculture Committees. “I will keep working in Congress to ensure continued investment in Maryland’s agriculture.”

Aquaculture – also known as fish or shellfish farming – is the practice of raising and harvesting freshwater and marine species of fish, shellfish and aquatic plants. NIFA’s Aquaculture Research Program grants support the development of a globally competitive and profitable U.S. aquaculture industry through investments that help improve domestic aquaculture production efficiency, sustainability, safety and marketing.

Senator Cardin worked closely with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to improve the aquaculture permitting process, and last year, secured a $40 million funding increase for the federal Oyster Restoration Program. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Van Hollen supported increased investment at the Agricultural Research Service on oyster survival and growth rates and funding for the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, which has been used in Maryland to improve the efficiency of oyster production. Senators Cardin and Van Hollen collaborated on language to encourage continued investment in the Chesapeake Bay Oyster Restoration Project, which he included as part of the Manager’s amendment on the FY18 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill.

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