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Florida Farmers Feel The Freeze

US - Extreme cold weather is affecting aquaculture producers in the US.

Tropical fish farmers face economic damage in both the short term and the long term, said Art Rawlins, president of the Florida Tropical Fish Farm Association Inc. in Winter Haven, who runs a farm in Lithia.

Losses at Florida fish farms surpassed 70 per cent in the wake of the two December freezes, he said. It could take most of next year to recover, allowing low-cost producers in Asia to capture a bigger share of the U.S. market.

Ron Connor with Connor's Fish Farm in Plant City, said he had lost 80 per cent of his stock. Less than 24 hours later that figure was more than 90 per cent.

Mr Connor has been farming fish for more than 30 years. He remembers a terrible freeze in 1989, but says this year has also been tough because the cold weather has arrived earlier than expected. He says he's spent many sleepless nights wondering about the future of his farm.

"Ultimately, what happens, is you have to let some people go," Mr Connor said. "You have to cut some people back to part time, you have to cut back on your feed purchases, because there's nothing to feed."

Mr Connor does have insurance, but the payout is capped at $100,000. He said that amount will not even cover the cost to cover the dozens of ponds he has.

Besides fish farmers, the Florida Department of Agriculture says the recent cold weather means Florida Farmers have lost $115 million.

the Fish Site Editor

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