Aquaculture America 2021 panelists for "Farming in the Time of a Pandemic" session. From left to right: Carole Engle, VSAREC; Jonathan van Senten, VSAREC; Matt Parker, University of Maryland;  Matthew Smith, Ohio State University; Ganesh Kumar, Mississippi State University. Not pictured: Paul Zajicek, National Aquaculture Association.
Aquaculture America 2021 panelists for "Farming in the Time of a Pandemic" session. From left to right: Carole Engle; Jonathan van Senten; Matt Parker; Matthew Smith; Ganesh Kumar. Not pictured: Paul Zajicek.

Aquaculture researchers, farmers, and industry leaders convened in San Antonio for the Aquaculture America 2021 conference at a time when many farmers were still recovering from impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic. Jonathan van Senten, assistant director at the Virginia Seafood AREC and assistant professor in the Virginia Tech Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, organized a special session featuring presentations focused on resiliency strategies for aquaculture farmers.

Anticipating many within the aquaculture community might not be able to attend the conference, van Senten worked with The National Aquaculture Association to record and release the presentations online so that aquafarmers across the country can access these resources and make informed decisions to prepare for future market or natural disaster disruptions.

Featured: Farm Financial Health by Carole Engle, Virginia Tech

One significant impact of the pandemic was the disruption of supply chains, explained van Senten during his talk on marketing strategies. Many seafood producers had to adjust their strategies to sell their products when faced with a sudden drop in revenue from food service, a primary source of income for many aquaculture businesses. 

"Strategic marketing requires that every business look at their own strengths and weaknesses to determine what is the best solution for them," said van Senten.

He hopes that recorded talks and lessons learned as a result of the shock of the last two years are carried forward to respond to the next crisis. 

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Aquaculture 2022 will be held in San Diego, February 28th to March 4th.  Join Virginia Seafood AREC faculty and other researchers, farmers, and industry leaders from across the country to share industry knowledge in dozens of scheduled sessions and nerworking opportunities. Early bird registration ends January 21, 2021.