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Shrimp on the prairie: Minnesota could soon produce shrimp – seriously

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Minnesota-grown shrimp?

It's possible, and it'll likely make the crustaceans more affordable for consumers.

Ralco, an agriculture company based in Marshall, Minnesota, has won its bid to license Texas A&M University's new shrimp farming technology, which would make it possible to produce 1 million pounds of shrimp per acre of water, anywhere – even far from the ocean in Minnesota, a news release said.

Researchers say this technology will ultimately reduce the price of shrimp, which is good for consumers.

How is this different?

Shrimp is typically farmed in ponds near the ocean, which makes them susceptible to environmental factors like pollution or bad weather. That can affect production and drive up the cost of shrimp globally.

But this new land-based aquaculture system, which is in a controlled environment, would reduce those factors and make it possible for producers to grow the shrimp anywhere – all year round.

Currently, producers in the U.S. are unable to farm shrimp year round because waters are too cold in the winter, so about 80 percent of the shrimp consumed in America is imported, AgriNews said.

And what effect will it have?

Ralco is currently working on developing the technology on a commercial level at its shrimp pilot research facility in Balaton, Minnesota. Eventually the company hopes to make it available to producers, according to the release.

Because companies won't have to get shrimp from halfway around the world, they'll be able to market shrimp at more competitive prices. That's something Michael Ziebell, the general manager of Ralco's shrimp division, says will lead to more people eating shrimp.

This new technology is also expected to be quite lucrative for the economy. AgriNews noted one acre of the aquaculture system could have a $25 million impact. The system would also benefit soybean growers – one of Minnesota's largest crops – because about one-third of a shrimp's diet would be soybean meal.

There is no set timeline for the project, the Rochester Post Bulletin notes, but Ralco intends to include southwestern Minnesota in its future plans.

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