State lends a hand with oyster farming
Watermen and others who want to get in on Maryland's new push for oyster farming can apply for a piece of $2.2 million the state is offering in subsidized aquaculture loans.
The O'Malley administration has put a mix of state and federal funding into a revolving loan fund to be run by Maryland Agricultural and Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation. The state also is offering training, business planning and other technical support for raising oysters.
Cost of starting out in oyster farming can range from $5,000 to $100,000, depending on the scale of the operation, officials say. Many watermen and other small businesses may have trouble obtaining adequate credit from traditional lenders, especially since it'll take up to three years before any oysters are ready to harvest and sell.
Maryland Watermen's Association President Larry Simns was quoted in a state press release calling the state loan fund "a good start."
Those wanting to raise oysters next year must apply by Nov. 15 to lease bottom from the state Department of Natural Resources. Those seeking financial assistance need to apply by Nov. 30. For details, go here.
(Oysters tonged from private shellfish bed in Patuxent River. 2008 Baltimore Sun photo by Barbara Haddock Taylor)