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List of operating commercial aquaponic farms in USA

Discussion in 'Commercial Systems' started by toffee, Jul 30, 2015.

  1. toffee

    toffee New Member

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    Anyone got a complete or partial list of operating commercial aquaponic farms in USA?
     
  2. Robert123

    Robert123 Active Member

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    I'll bite and go out on a limb based on my last few years of experience and study....

    The list is probably short - even shorter for those that are profitable - and shorter yet for those that are profitable with sales solely from the aquiponics farming side of the equation (ie no equipment / technology sales).

    Don't misunderstand me, I love aquaponics but the profits don't compete with standard commercial or hydroponic farming at this time. Great for hobby farms, but the numbers don't yet support large commercial ventures without subsidies.
     
  3. toffee

    toffee New Member

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    Mind sharing that short list? I also don't get why aquaponic couldn't compete against hydroponic farming, aqua has a secondary income in fish, right?
     
  4. toffee

    toffee New Member

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  5. Murray

    Murray Site Admin Staff Member

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    I am always amused with the notion that an Aquaponics farm must be profitable from only one income stream. All smart businesses work hard at having as many allied income streams as is possible. This idea that the farm must only be profitable from one income stream is just plain silly. I know where these thoughts arise from and it is almost always from someone who does not, and has never even run a business let alone had a go at AP.
    I am not having a shot at you Robert. Please do not misunderstand me.

    There is one guy on Linked in that is always rabbitting on about this notion. Doesn't even have a system himself, not even a small one.
    Another serial armchair general that has been haunting forums for years regularly puts forth the same silly stuff.

    WE just had the pleasure of spending time in Oregon with Arvind from Waterfarmers in Toronto Canada. They have built several successful farms now in Bahrain, Oman, Hong Kong, Canada and India. They are slowly but surely getting the runs on the board. I am very proud that he is a student of mine. Most of the farms are successful just on the sales from the farm....but they all plan to diversify into other income streams as soon as is possible. Multiple income streams provides security and a buffer in case of bad times. If one sector is down, then the other may well be up.

    Just this morning I spent time with a successful Hydro farmer from Brisbane northside. He grows lettuce. Cos and oakleaf, both red and green. Sells all he can grow for 2.40 each. No, he does not sell to the big supermarkets, but to restaurants and the like.

    Just tell me why the same cannot be done with AP?

    Failures came about for a few very obvious reasons. 1. Insufficient capital to see the farm through to profit. 2 Failure to have even a basic business plan. 3. Failure to get good advices and assistance.
     
    MrOodlesNnoodle and andyholloway like this.
  6. Robert123

    Robert123 Active Member

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    Murray and I agree on most all points - especially on the "you better have a solid business plan"!! As well, diversified income streams is certainly smart business to smooth out the ebbs and flows in economic cycles, but as a businessman I'm not going to run a loss (or even a decreased margin) in a sales area unless it provides me something else of value. For example: if the AP has advertising value, allows me to penetrate a new market, or permits me up charge to some consumers that perceive value over and beyond the calories and taste of their food, then it can work. That is my personal "angle of attack" for implementing AP at present.

    Here's my point and why I was direct and blunt on the original question...

    Too often, people early into AP after hearing about its ecosystem see it as a low cost or even "free" method of food production. It is not. It has a high cost / ft^2 growing area (in the USA, you're competing against farmland that often costs $0.10 or less per ft^2 of growing area). That makes it hard to be a profitable farming operation unless you have direct sales of your produce (there is no room for a "middleman" economics - especially two middlemen where you sell wholesale then additionally go through a retailer). Direct sales to restaurants can be a solid plan, but you are also battling with the hydroponics crowd if you have some savvy entrepreneurs in your area.

    toffee -

    I stand by what I responded with. The farming side of AP can be tough to make a living at - even tougher than traditional farming. Do your homework. Start small. Learn what you are getting into. Design your system to run with minimal energy input. Investigate your market thoroughly. We all have opinions. You obviously know mine now ;)
     
  7. toffee

    toffee New Member

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    Feeling like somehow I have stepped on folks' toes with my question. I agree with everything Robert and Murray said under this thread, but I was looking for names of on going business was all. Based on what Robert said, hydro folks enjoy competitive edge due to lower cost?
     
  8. Robert123

    Robert123 Active Member

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    You're not stepping on toes. Simply asking direct questions.

    To respond to you recent question, yes - Hydro does appear to have lower cost to produce. Equipment is similar (lack the fish tank), more easily controlled, less complicated due to lack of aquatic life, energy inputs are lower, and harvests are (arguably) larger. AP has a mystic to it all its own though. I don't want to do hydro - my intent is to focus on and improve AP.

    The list of operating companies in the US appears to be in a constant state of flux. We had a medium-large AP farm in my area go belly up quickly (in a few years) while the hydro folks thrived / expanded. When your variable production cost is negative (continue to lose money), no amount of time helps you recoup your fixed investment. The closest commercial AP to me now is 2 hr away, and it is really an equipment / technology sales outfit. *** UPDATE *** They just shut down a month or two ago as well. Sold the whole business - and they had just put in a fantastic greenhouse structure when I first started my research. I see another AP farm has fired up in the lower part of my state late last year. Think I'll give 'em a shout and possibly schedule a visit as they live close to my sister in-law. I suggest to use the web and just start calling around those in your vicinity as well. Most folks will be willing to talk.

    Worth repeating again.... Marketing and a solid business plan are a must!!!
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2015
  9. Robert123

    Robert123 Active Member

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    Did some digging for you (and me ;)) and found this data from Jan 2015. This doesn't give you a list of names, but it does show the location of the 121 AP "farms" that were operating in the US in 2014. 84% were gross sales < $50k (75% < $25k in 2013). Only about 73% actually sold plants/fish (27% sold equipment and technology only), 47% sold additional crops NOT produced via aquaponics, about 2/3 of the farm labor was not paid (probably the smaller farms), 31% made a profit last year (pretty even for both large and medium size operations), and 75% of the sales were direct to the consumer. I will also add, the profitability also correlated quite strongly to AP farmers that used AP as their primary source of income.

    1.jpg
     
  10. bcasey2703

    bcasey2703 Member

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    Great detective work! Much appreciated.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  11. Raymond A Guerrero

    Raymond A Guerrero New Member

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    Are there any aquaponics farm either small or large scale in south florida ? would mine get more experience. outside of doing my own stuff on small scale.
     

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