By Margaret Pizer
A new “enterprise budget” for Virginia’s oyster aquaculture industry aims to help lenders and potential aquaculturists better understand what goes into a successful oyster-growing business. The oyster crop budgets consist of a set of spreadsheets that allow users to estimate costs and earnings, along with a manual to help guide users through the spreadsheets. Enterprise budgets are widely used for traditional farm crops to help farmers and their investors make business decisions.
Karen Hudson and Tom Murray of the marine extension program at Virginia Sea Grant (VASG) and Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) prepared the budgets and manual along with Dan Kauffman of VASG and the Virginia Seafood Agriculture Research and Extension Center and independent economic consultant Alexander Solomon.
The project was initiated in response to requests from lenders, who are increasingly being asked to finance new and growing aquaculture operations as the industry expands. Virginia’s oyster aquaculture sector, which sold fewer than a million oysters just seven years ago in 2005, topped 23 million in sales in 2011.
“These new enterprise budgets provide a dynamic tool for assessing investment in new enterprises as well as evaluating the costs and returns associated with changes in existing oyster aquaculture operations,” says Murray.