September 26, 2023

MASBDA-Funded Project Assists Missouri Aquaculture Industry

Grant from Missouri Agricultural and Small Business Development Authority focuses on advancing aquaculture through a "next generation" project.


A statewide project funded by the Missouri Agricultural and Small Business Development Authority has explored the landscape of Missouri’s aquaculture industry and opportunities for growth.

According to the 2018 Census of Aquaculture, Missouri saw $7.67 million in total sales of aquaculture products. The Next Generation Aquaculture in Missouri project has developed resources that take an inventory of the industry at a state and national level, as well as the feasibility of aquaculture enterprises for new operations. Members of the University of Missouri Agricultural Business and Policy Extension group completed the project.

The Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council, Missouri Corn Merchandising Council and Missouri Aquaculture Association offered integral support and collaboration to learn from successful aquaculture operations, better understand business opportunities available to the state’s crop producers and explore new demand markets.

“This project has given us new insights into aquaculture demand and production capabilities for Missouri farmers,” said Lane Howard, associate director of market development with the Missouri Corn Merchandising Council. “We hope to share these findings and resources with Missouri producers in our efforts to build demand for corn through innovative markets.”

Findings from the project suggest that for Missouri farmers seeking to diversify their income, aquaculture could offer a new revenue stream. Business models can help individuals understand the profitability of enterprises based on desired markets, fish species produced and enterprise infrastructure.

“Achieving profitability on a small scale and seeking opportunities around niche markets are important for Missouri’s aquaculture startups,” said Ryan Milhollin, MU Extension agricultural economist and study organizer. “With the Next Generation Aquaculture in Missouri project, our team has developed a host of free resources to help interested operators better understand major factors when considering an aquaculture business venture.”

Four publicly available resources and tools have been released as part of this project:

Growing Missouri’s Aquaculture Industry: Needs Assessment
Growing Missouri’s Aquaculture Industry: Trends and Outlook
Growing Missouri’s Aquaculture Industry: Business Models
Growing Missouri’s Aquaculture Industry: Marketing Study

MU Extension also updated an existing resource, Planning for an Aquaculture Business in Missouri to help guide new entrants into the industry.

“There is a growing demand for seafood in the United States and a significant portion of that is imported. We think Missouri is positioned well to grow more fish in-state and provide more demand for soybean meal in those feed rations,” said Matt Amick, director of market development for the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council. “The resources provided by MU Extension will help individuals or farmers explore new opportunities in aquaculture.”

This project was funded by the Missouri Agricultural and Small Business Development Authority (MASBDA) through the Value-Added Agriculture grant program. The MASBDA board supports new market development and expanding Missouri’s value-added agriculture opportunities as a critical part of Missouri’s long-term economic growth vision.

“In our efforts to further agriculture as the state’s top economic driver, we are excited to see the exploration of value-added ventures like processing aquaculture products,” said MASBDA Executive Director Jill Wood. “This project has shed light on opportunities for Missouri farmers to start or expand diversified enterprises and increase local demand for feedstuffs.”

For questions about financial assistance offered by MASBDA, please visit or contact the MASBDA team by phone at (573) 751-2129 or by email at

For more information about the University of Missouri Agricultural Business and Policy Extension group, visit their website at

For more information about the Missouri Department of Agriculture and its programs, visit the Department online at Agriculture.Mo.Gov.