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Posted 21 Dec 2001   For week ended December 21, 2001
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News about Mormons, Mormonism,
and the LDS Church
Sent on Mormon-News: 21Dec01
By Rosemary Pollock
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LDS Church's Deseret Ranch Experimenting with Shrimp Farming

ST CLOUD, FLORIDA -- Desert Ranch, a 300,000 acre cattle ranch owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has begun experimenting with shrimp farming, as have many citrus growers in South Florida. The ranch, located in St.Cloud, south of Orlando, is considered the largest east of the Mississippi river in the U.S.

Many of those getting into shrimp farming are reacting to the prices for citrus products. "We've had declining citrus prices for the last 10 years," said Donovan Schumann, 32, of Vero Beach, who has gone into the shrimp business in a big way. Schumann took the leap from his own management company of a former citrus grove to 120 acres on the Indian River Aquaculture in 1998. Three years later, his hard work, research and planning have produced up to 1,000 pounds of shrimp a week. "The shrimp market is good." he adds. "Many citrus growers are just about finished. The glory days are over." The company's Sable Bay Fresh Shrimp brand is being delivered this week for $8 a pound to seafood retailers, restaurants and to consumers who order a minimum of 5 pounds.

The practice of shrimp farming started in the early 1990's when researchers discovered that shrimp can be acclimated to fresh water. "They thrive especially well in Florida's hard water with its high levels of calcium ions," says Ferdinand Wirth, an agricultural economist at the University of Florida's Indian River Research and Education Center in Fort Pierce."

Schumann's Indian River Aquaculture is one of three Florida firms marketing their first shrimp as the year comes to a close. OceanBoy Farms, headquartered in Clewiston is the biggest with 12, 2 1/2 acre rows of cropland. "The reason we are growing shrimp is there's a huge demand for it," said Robin Pearl, OceanBoy's vice president and business manager. "The U.S. imports more than $3 billion a year in shrimp. It's our second-largest trade deficit in natural resources, after oil." The third major player is Desert Ranch, but General Manager Ferren Squires says the ranch is still experimenting with it.

Many others in Florida are now experimenting with shrimp farms. "Almost 30 people in Florida have shrimp farm permits," said Kal Knickerbocker, an administrator with the Florida Department of Agriculture in Tallahassee. "It is risky, and it's a real tough market to operate in. They have to compete with shrimp coming off the boats and the foreign imports. You can make a lot of money, or you can lose a lot," Knickerbocker added.


Shrimp farms are comin' to a citrus grove near you
Palm Beach FL Post 17Dec01 B3
By Susan Salisbury, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer


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