Risk Management in Clam Farming
Risk has always been a part of agriculture.
But farming in America today has changed
dramatically over the past few years.
Increasingly, farmers are learning to deal with
new risks, such as global competition, changes
in the marketing of products, and more volatile
weather patterns. To be successful, farmers
must now look at a knowledgeable approach to
risk management as part of their business plan.
A growing interest in agricultural risk
management is encouraging the development of
new tools and services. For an excellent
introduction to this topic, visit the U.S.
Department of Agriculture (USDA), Risk
Management Agency's (RMA) website at
A primary source of risks is production. One
management strategy to lower yield risks is
through the purchase of crop insurance. This
transfers risk from the producer to another for a
price the insurance premium. Government
policy makers are placing greater emphasis on
insurance programs as opposed to other forms
of aid. Federally subsidized crop insurance is
currently available for over 76 crops with clam
farmers among the first aquaculturists to be
eligible. This newsletter issue provides an
update on the pilot clam crop insurance program
and other USDA crop assistance programs.
Diversification, including different crops, end
points or income sources, is another effective
way to reduce production risks.
Understanding marketing risks involves
information, attitude, and skill. An analysis of
supply and demand is important in developing a
marketing plan. Commodity markets, such as the
clam market, respond decisively to these
projections. Both a clam farmer and wholesaler
must also be aware of respective break-even
prices and market prices received in all growing
areas. There are many pricing strategies
employed in agriculture, which to date have had
little application in shellfish culture. In addition
to storage, cash sales and direct sales, there are a
variety of contract options that can be used.
To assist farmers in risk management, the
USDA RMA invests in educational programs.
This year the UF Shellfish Aquaculture
Extension Program and the FL Department of
Agriculture and Consumer Services have entered
into partnerships with RMA to look at several
issues affecting the clam farming industry. See
Page 3 for details on an upcoming industry
meeting in which these topics will be addressed.
Pilot Clam Crop Insurance Program Extended
The cultivated clam crop insurance program has been under evaluation in 4 Florida counties and 3 other states since 2000. During
this 4-year pilot phase, over $8 million in indemnities, or loss payments, have been made to Florida growers. The USDA Risk
Management Agency (RMA), the federal agency that develops and maintains these programs, can determine if a particular program
is actuarially sound, or economically effective, by looking at loss ratios (determined by dividing loss payments by the program
premiums). In Florida, loss ratios for the clam program have been very high, ranging from 2.67 in 2000 to 2.39 in 2002. By
comparison, loss ratios for most crops are around 1 to 1.4. One of the risks associated with crop insurance is that of "moral hazard."
Many industry members believe that abuse and misuse of this program have affected the market price structure for Florida clams and
have suggested the program be discontinued. This year RMA's compliance section took a closer look and recommended suspension
of the program in Florida. Instead, the agency's Board of Directors approved on September 2 to continue the program but with
significant changes to policy provisions and actuarials. Further, premium rates will be increased, doubling for one of the insured
clam sizes. Many growers finding these changes too stringent and rates too high, may decide not to apply for crop year 2004. A
recommendation would be to consider applying for the minimal level of coverage. Catastrophic coverage is available for a fee of
$100. Remember a grower is ineligible for other crop assistance programs (see page 2 for a review of the USDA Farm Service
Agency's programs), if crop insurance is available in their area. The next page provides a summary of the pilot program changes to
be implemented next year. Contact your insurance agent for further information. Sales closing date is November 30, 2003.
Volume VII No.3
INSIDE THIS ISSUE:
Pilot Clam Insurance Program Changes for Crop Year 2004
New Clam Stages In previous years, the policy divided
clams into two age or size groups-field nursery and growout.
The policy now defines different stages of clams. For
example, a Stage 2 clam is from 10 mm in shell length (SL)
to less than 7/8" in shell width (SW), and a Stage 3 clam is
between 7/8" and 1 1/8" SW. Crop inventory values and loss
payments will be based on different stages.
Nursery Seed Not Covered Since Florida growers
routinely plant nursery bags on their leases, coverage of
nursery seed, defined as a clam between 5 and 10 mm SL,
was included in the policy from the start. Growers in other
participating states never had this option. Unfortunately, in a
crop value plan problems related to having differently valued
clam sizes on one lease were realized early on in the
program. For example, a claim may be approved for dead
seed in nursery bags due to an insurable loss but, most likely,
a payment would not occur if clams in growout bags on the
same lease were not affected by the event. As a result, many
growers began to plant their nursery seed on other leases or
create fictitious sub-leases, resulting in a change of culture
practices. It is not the intent of a crop insurance program to
cause growers to alter how they do things. Adding a separate
policy for nursery seed in which a loss payment would be
made for the cost to replant seed, not the value of the seed,
was not approved for 2004. Consequently, nursery seed will
not be covered next year. However, this size clam will be
eligible for catastrophic coverage through a program (NAP)
administered by USDA Farm Service Agency (see below).
Causes of Loss Redefined Definitions of certain insurable
causes of loss have been modified to be more specific to an
actual event. For example, both decrease in salinity (note
increase in salinity is no longer covered) and storm surge
must be associated with a verified weather event.
Lease Division Many growers with multiple leases or
parcels in the same county have been able to insure these
separately in the past. So if a loss occurred in one area, and
not another, the value of the undamaged plants would not
affect the other. Now to have separate coverage, the leases
must be located in different high density lease areas or the
leases must be considered non-contiguous.
Grower Experience To be eligible for coverage, growers
must now have prior experience. Specifically, a grower must
have commercially grown clams in at least 3 out of the 5
previous years. New growers will be eligible for catastrophic
coverage through the USDA Farm Service Agency.
Reporting Requirements Insured growers must now
report all clams on their lease, even those belonging to
another grower, sub-leaseholder, or authorized user. The
insured must also provide a map of their lease detailing
where various clam plants are located. This will be turned in
to the insurance agent at the first of the crop year with the
inventory report. The map must be revised and submitted to
the agent quarterly. In addition, copies of all sales receipts for seed
must be provided to the agent within 10 days of the purchase.
Tagging Requirements Growout bags planted after the sales
closing date of November 30, 2003 must be tagged with the
owner's name and aquaculture certification (AQ) number. This
requirement was encouraged by reinsured companies involved in
administering the clam program to help their loss adjusters
properly identify the insured's crop. The tag must be able to last
with legible information for the duration the bag is on the lease. Tag
suggestions include a plastic marker used by the horticultural
industry to identify plants. These are cheap (less than a penny per
bag) and can be written on with a permanent marker prior to placing
inside a bag. Polyurethane cattle ear tags would be more expensive
(15 cents per bag) but more durable and could be applied outside
the bag. Another option is a stainless steel band used to mark crab
traps. The engraved band can be crimped onto the seam of a bag.
Impression tags, which can be embossed using a pen or pencil, may
work. For more information on possible tagging methods, contact
the Shellfish Aquaculture Extension Office.
Survival Rates for Stage 2 and 3 clams will be 70%, the same as it
has been for clams in growout bags since the program started. If
clams are stocked in growout bags at a density greater than 75 per
square foot, or 1200 per 16 ft2 bag, survival rates will drop to 50%.
Growers' production records maintained for at least 3 years may
also be used to determine survival. In addition, a 50% survival rate
will be applied to clams harvested and then replanted onto the lease.
Prices defined in the actuarial reflect the drop in dockside prices
experienced by growers since 2001. The prices are based on the
various stages with Stage 2 clams valued at 4.5 cents and Stage 3
clams at 6.37 cents. Prices in eligible counties do not differ.
-S- Farm Service Agency's Programs
Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program, or NAP
This program provides financial assistance to eligible growers
affected by natural disasters. A grower is not eligible for NAP if
crop insurance is offered in their county. An application must be
filed annually by the sales closing date. A service fee of $100 is
charged per crop. NAP provides catastrophic coverage for up to
50% of the crop value at 55% of the market value.
Crop Disaster Program, or CDP
This special program, provided for by the Agricultural Assistance
Act of 2003, reimburses producers for qualifying losses due to
damaging weather or related conditions. CDP is available to clam
growers who received loss payments in either the crop insurance or
NAP programs during the 2001 and 2002 crop years. CDP sign-up
began in June.
Contact your local FAS office to obtain more information on these
programs or to apply. Call the Shellfish Aquaculture Extension
Office to find out where your FAS office is located.
Page 2 September 2003
THE BIVALVE BULLETIN
XT XT T T XT r T T Cn
The following sessions present information and educational materials
developed in partnership with the USDA Risk Management Agency under their
Targeted Commodity Partnerships for Risk Management Education Program.
Organizational Structures and Strategies
Session Moderator: Leslie Sturmer, UF Shellfish Extension Program
Survey results ofsuccessful agricultural and aquacultural organizations
Amanda Ruth, UF Agricultural Education and Communication Dept.
How to organize, create revenue and provide services for your industry
Panel discussion with Alan Pierce, FL Fruit and Vegetable Association;
Chuck Smith, FL Poultry Federation; and others (TBA)
Marketing Training for FL Clam Farmers
Session Moderator: Barbera Tumbull, Department of Agriculture and
Consumer Services (DACS), Bureau of Seafood and Aquaculture Marketing
Clam market research on potential buyer preferences:
Focus group results and recommendations
Dr. Phillip Downs, Kerr & Downs Research, FSU School of Business
10 secrets to increasing business profitability
Dr. Jerome Osteryoung, Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship,
FSU School of Business
How to reach the restaurant markets
Charles Riley, VP & Purchasing Director, Hooters Management Corp.
2002-3 DACS Clam Marketing Campaign, John Easley
2003 Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference, Dan Leonard
2004 USDA RMA Pilot Clam Crop Insurance Program, Paul Waldon
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Page 4 September 2003 THE BIVALVE BULLETIN
IClam Industry Meeting Details
Yankees Ramada Inn
and Conference Center
3810 N\\ Blitchton Road
Phone: (32) 732-3131
From Interstate 75, take exit
354 onto US 27. ,o \\est and
Ramada is on immediate left
STATE SPOTLIGHT: Massachusetts Shellfish Growers Take Action
This article is the first of a series in The Bivalve Bulletin
highlighting activities in other clam-producing states.
Massachusetts is featured in this issue because of recent
actions taken by Cape Cod shellfish growers to improve
marketing opportunities for their industry through the state's
Shellfish consumption was the topic of a survey conducted
by the Massachusetts Aquaculture Association this summer.
Results of the survey, entitled I ,,-. I ,,, Opportunities in the
Shellfish Industry Based on Perceptions, Preferences, and
Practices of Consumers in New England," are being used to
determine the best way to approach increasing sales of farm-
raised clams. Telephone interviews concentrated on residents
in eight New England states. The following is an excerpt from
this survey. (Editor's Note: It may be of interest to compare
this information with results recently obtained in a similar
study conducted by our Department of Agriculture and
Consumer Services. Research results on buyer preferences for
Florida clams will be presented at the 2003 Industry Meeting.)
This study's results indicated that 78% of consumers in the
Northeast ate seafood and 55% reported eating clams. The
favorite clam of the respondents was littlenecks (72%),
followed by consumers who preferred chowders (49%) as a
favorite, cherrystones (40%), soft shell clams (28%) and
mahogany clams (18%). Most clams were consumed in
restaurants (65%), not at home (31%). Seventy-nine percent
wanted labels on clams and on restaurant menus indicating the
method of production. The main reason for not eating clams
was the taste.
Consumers bought clams for home consumption
predominately at supermarkets (42%) and fish markets (35%).
The characteristics most important were freshness (97%),
visual appeal (67%), price (65%), health benefits (63%),
where the clams came from and size (58%). The most
important characteristic was that clams were produced in
clean water (91%). Of the consumers surveyed, 44%
vacationed on the coast at least once
a year. About 1/3 of those tended to
prepare clams themselves while on
vacation, while 2/3 ate clams at
restaurants. Freshness was the main $4. Ifk
reason for consuming clams while
on vacation. About 30% considered i" IA 0
brand name important.
These findings have important implications for market
segmentation, consumer education and promotion. An
examination of clam consumption and consumer demographic
information revealed a strong correlation between age and
likelihood of preparing and ordering clams. Younger
consumers, those 18-25, were least likely to consume clams
(34%). The number jumped to 64% for consumers aged 46-55.
It appears both of these age groups are viable target markets. In
the case of Generation Y consumers, the goal would be to
stimulate demand through portrayal of aquaculture produced
clams as new, different and unusual. Emphasis on visual
appeal, trendy clam bars and the technology of aquaculture
would have appeal. For Baby Boomers, the task would be to
increase consumption both at home and restaurants. Both
groups responded well to freshness and appeal of clean water
The Massachusetts Aquaculture Association has also
embarked on a marketing promotion to help improve public
awareness and demand for locally grown product versus out-
of-state. Product being purchased at a cheaper rate is
considered to be one of their biggest threats. Items being made
available include 1) brochures educating consumers about
aquaculture and the benefits of eating shellfish, 2) window
stickers with their logo and the words "Proudly Served Here"
for use at participating restaurants and markets and 3) tear-off
recipe cards for participating markets.
Source: Massachusetts Aquaculture Association Newsletter, June
2003, website: www. massaqua.org
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Page 4 September 2003
THE BIVALVE BULLETIN
Land-based Washing Program Moves Forward
The need to legitimately recognize land-based washing, or tumbling,
facilities was voiced by industry about a year ago to the Department of
Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS) Division of Aquaculture,
the agency who regulates shellfish harvesting
activities (see the October 2003 issue of the
Shellfish Aquaculture Newsletter for details).
Specifically, in some areas of the state,
harvesting of clams is limited to a narrow
time frame due to tides or other constraints,
creating a "bottleneck" at the processing
plant. A proposal to license a washing faculty
through the Division's aquaculture
certification program met with favor. The
certified facility, in turn, would be sited and
operated under specific best management
practices. Implementation of the washing
program was delayed when a request for
verification of the process was made. This summer a study was
conducted in which the microbiological consequences of washing clams
on a lease and at a shellfish wholesaler's processing plant were compared
with a land-based washing facility. Study results showed no differences
and ensured this process would provide a safe shellfish product.
The Division is now ready to move forward with the washing program
on an interim basis during which prescribed sanitation practices will be
evaluated. If the program evaluation is favorable, DACS will develop
sanitation rules for harvesting and washing clams to be included in the
Comprehensive Shellfish Control Code (Chapter 5L-1, FAC). In order to
participate, facility operators must possess or obtain an aquaculture
certificate, or AQ Card, for the washing facility. Certification will be
based upon pre-inspection of the facility by the Division. Further, the
operator must agree to comply with guidelines for washing clams. These
include: 1) adherence to local zoning and construction regulations, 2)
prohibition of siting on docks or over submerged lands, 3) shading of the
area and clams at all times, 4) a hard surface floor that can be cleaned, 5)
equipment constructed of materials that can be cleaned, 6) routine
microbiological monitoring of the source water for washing, 7) specific
requirements for water discharges, and 8) proper disposal of shells and
other materials. The operator must also comply with existing public
health rules, such as proper tagging of harvested product and operating
within the harvesting time-temperature matrix. To obtain information on
this program or to schedule a pre-inspection, contact David Hell or Mark
Berrigan at (850) 488-4033.
'What is Veneridae and .
why is it on my AQ card?"
Were you surprised when you received your
2003-4 aquaculture certificate, or AQ card, to see
you were growing Veneridae? The DACS Division
of Aquaculture, the agency overseeing this
registration program, has revised how cultured
species are to be reported. The new method uses
scientific classifications in place of common
names. The taxonomic approach includes Classes,
Orders, and Families.
The hard clam is a mollusk (Phylum Mollusca)
in the Class Bivalvia, because the shell has two
valves. Another molluscan class is Gastropoda in
which snails and conchs, animals with one shell or
valve, are placed. Veneridae, the Latin word for
"heart" or "love," is the family name for the hard
clam. This group of bivalves was given the name
due to the heart shape created when the shell is
held hinge up. By the way, Veneridae is one of the
largest bivalve families, containing over 400
species of clams, such as sunray venus, disk clam
and southern quahog. Oysters, scallops and
mussels are found in other families. Mercenaria
mercenaria (pronounced "mer-sin-area") is the
genus and species, or scientific name of the clam,
which is farm-raised here in Florida and along the
entire eastern seaboard. The word mercenaria
means "money" in Latin. The taxonomist Linneaus
gave this name to the hard clam in 1758, after its
use by native Indians in the colonial period as a
currency called wampum. So now you know what
you are growing!
BMP Display at Shellfish Center
On-farm use of best management practices, or
BMPs, for marine facilities, such as hatcheries and
nurseries, will be displayed and demonstrated at the
Shellfish Aquaculture Research and Education
Center in Cedar Key. Colorful signs providing
information on site selection, placement of pipes,
discharge, erosion control, seed shipment, health
management, and more were recently installed. The
DACS Division of Aquaculture headed up the
project with funding through the Clean Water Act
and the Department of Environmental Protection.
Completed this year, the Shellfish Center will be
used by university faculty and students as a remote
field station. Research efforts underway are
evaluation of genetic diversity in clam strains and
development of alternative molluscan shellfish
species for culture. The Center will also serve as an
educational and demonstration facility.
Adam Trott, a new extension program assistant,
stands in front of the Shellfish Center in Cedar Key.
Paj~e 5 September 2003
THE BIVALVE BULLETIN
Page 6 September
THE BIVALVE BULLETIN
Marine Bivalve Facilities Training in C.L.A.M Software
BMPs Field Demonstration Thursday, October 2 6:30 PM
Wednesday, October 8 1-3:00 PM FSU Marine Lab, Carrabelle
UF Shellfish Extension Office/FWCC Marine Lab Tuesday, October 21 4:00 PM
Cedar Key North IRC Library, Sebastian
An introductory tour for on-site discussions and Q&A Wednesday, October 22 4:00 & 6:30 PM
regarding BMPs will be held for hatchery and nursery operators Brevard County Ag Center, Cocoa
and interested parties. See Page 5 for more information.
These training sessions will introduce clam growers to a
user-friendly software program based on Microsoft Excel for
Sustainable Marine Fish Culture IBM-compatible PC systems. The Computer Logbook And
Conference and Workshops Management software package was developed as a business
L tool to enhance record
October 9-10, 2003 |' r keeping and inventory
Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution management of a clam farm.
APM. A FREE copy of the software
Fort Pierce 0 I
Program and a companion
Industry and research leaders will share current knowledge on User's Guide will be
the culture of brackish water and offshore marine fish species provided at these sessions.
and production systems. Conference registration is $100. CI Contact Leslie Sturmer at
Contact Ken Riley, Harbor Branch Aquaculture at (772) 465- (352) 543-5057 to sign-up.
2400 or the website: www.aquaculture-online.org/conference.
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