EFFECTS OF DIFFERENT CAPITAL SOURCES ON MARYLAND OYSTER AQUACULTURE OPERATIONS
Parker, Matthew Denson
Harrell, Reginal M
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Aquaculture production of oysters has occurred in the state of Maryland since the 1890s, with limited success due to restrictive regulations and opposition from the commercial wild industry. After revision of the aquaculture leasing regulations in 2009, the Maryland oyster aquaculture industry expanded more than 10-fold. In 2010, Maryland Agricultural Resource Based Industry Development Corporation (MARBIDCO) started the Maryland Shellfish Aquaculture Loan fund, which features an interest-only period and partial-principle forgiveness. Loans taken through this program typically have a 3%, three-year, interest only period. If all interest only payments are made on time 40% of principle of the first loan is forgiven. Remaining principle is amortized at a rate of 5% over the remaining term of the loan. Any subsequent loans feature the same interest only period, however only 25% of the loan principle is forgiven. This study evaluated if there is any difference in farm accounting metrics when comparing self-financed operations, conventionally funded operations, and operations with MARBIDCO funding on water-column and bottom-culture oyster aquaculture operations. Bottom-culture and water-column operations had significantly higher net present value (NPV), internal rates of return (IRR), and accounting profit values when they were MARBIDCO-financed compared other sources of capital. Significant economies of scale were found in both bottom-culture and water-column operations, with larger operations having lower break-even costs. The effect of receiving payments for nutrient credits was evaluated for effects on farm accounting metrics. Operations that received nutrient payments had higher NPV, and IRR values, and accounting profit than those operations that did not receive nutrient payments. Nutrient credit payments, however, were unlikely to contribute substantially to operational success since they represent a small percentage of overall revenue. Successful operations were generally successful without nutrient credit payments; therefore, the decision to start an oyster-aquaculture operation should not be based on receiving nutrient credit payments. This research suggests oyster aquaculture operations that use MARBIDCO financing in the State of Maryland will have the best chance of success and highest financial return.