My mind immediately went to the aquaculture facility. Hog confinements were nothing new. I had worked in them before and had a grasp of the basics. A fish farm, however, sparked my curiosity. Where would we put it? How large could it be? What type of markets are available? I started doing research when I got home that night. It looked promising. I sent a few emails and received positive feedback for marketing.
Devin had mentioned an aquaculture conference in Ames that he would like to attend, but with it being in the middle of harvest, he wasn't sure he could get away. I volunteered to go in his place. I love going to conferences and it would give me ammunition to use for what I was certain was going to be my new project.
I arrived in Ames to find it was at the same hotel that I had stayed in only 48 hours before. The desk attendant even greeted me. Walking in I was shocked at the number of people. Over 200 people had showed up when I was expecting a crowd of 20. I found a seat and was heading to get something to drink when I ran into Delaney Howell. Delaney has been incredibly helpful in getting the podcast off the ground and it was nice to see a friendly face.
The first session was interesting, but the second was key. Apparently starting a fish farm was going to remain a dream as I listened to our keynote speaker talk about the costs of such an operation. Raising fish is the most expensive animal to raise per pound. Yep even more than cattle. On top of that, almost all of the fish in the United States is imported and there is a heavy foreign market. When she asked the room how many people raised fish, only two in the whole crowed raised their hands.
While this information was disheartening, the highlight of the day was lunch. The food itself was good, but I was late getting in and therefore had to sit at what I would call "the big kids" table. At this table were two of the conference presenters along with a former state representative, a member of the Iowa Corn association, and one of the directors of Farm Bureau. We had an interesting conversation and I was able to secure some future interviews for the students. So while I did not get a new project in the form of a fish farm, CAC did get some great interviews. All in all it was a good day.