ISA hires aquaculture program and strategy contractor
The Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) has hired Tony Schuur, a professional aquaculture scientist, to help manage the group's aquaculture market development program. Aquaculture is a growing area of interest with a promising outlook for the state's soybean farmers. As with other segments of animal agriculture, many fish and shrimp species have shown strong performance with soy protein included in feed rations.
"Soybean farmer checkoff investment in aquaculture is relatively new, but we are very optimistic about the research results we've seen," says Doug Winter, farmer from Mill Shoals, Ill., and ISA director. "Soy offers numerous valuable properties to freshwater and marine fish feed rations, which means aquaculture could provide soybean farmers with another potentially large market."
Bill Wykes, soybean farmer from Yorkville, Ill., and chairman of the ISA Demand Committee, adds that in order for ISA to successfully drive the program forward, the farmer board had to hire an expert who understands the operations, markets and economics of aquaculture.
"Tony has more than 35 years of experience in aquaculture, and we needed someone with international experience and the ability to communicate the benefits of soy as we look to increase the growing market," says Wykes. "Tony has 'hands on' experience and also brings the technical expertise and understanding of U.S. regulations we must have to further develop the domestic aquaculture market. I, and the rest of the ISA Demand Committee, look forward to working with Tony as we continue to create new markets for Illinois soybeans."
"The substitution of soy in aquaculture diets is paramount for furthering expansion of aquaculture in the U.S. and throughout the world," says Schuur. "I have experience formulating shrimp diets that replace the critical fishmeal component with other protein feed constituents. Such replacement is important to demonstrating a sustainable future for aquaculture, as fish meal becomes increasingly scarce and costly. Feed sustainability is one of the constant objections cited by many that oppose expansion of aquaculture production."
Schuur's most recent consulting experience includes eight years as a supervising environmental scientist with James M. Montgomery Consulting Engineers and more than 20 years as an independent consultant. He has assisted with the planning, design, implementation and technical management of both shrimp and finfish aquaculture facilities in the United States and numerous foreign locations in the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and Central and South America.
Schuur is co-author of Bioeconomics of Aquaculture, which describes interrelationships between the biological, engineering and economic aspects of aquaculture. He serves on the editorial board of Aquaculture Engineering, and is vice president for government affairs of the California Aquaculture Association. He was a founding member of the National Aquaculture Association. Schuur has a bachelor's degree in biological science from the University of California, Irvine, and did graduate studies in agricultural economics at the University of California, Davis.
The Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) is the statewide organization for Illinois soybean growers. The farmers on its board administer soybean checkoff funds to support research, promotions, and educational programs designed to increase demand for Illinois soybeans and administer legislation and membership programs.