Aquaculture--raising fish for food, bait and ornamental purposes--is one of the fastest growing segments of the U.S. agricultural industry.

Missouri is supporting that trend with more than $10 million in annual aquaculture-related sales. This growing industry will be the topic of discussion when leaders in the state's aquaculture industry gather in Cape Girardeau, in February, for the 2000 Missouri Aquaculture Association annual meeting and conference.

This year's conference, "Discussing the Opportunities and Challenges of Midwest Aquaculture," is scheduled Feb. 22 and 23, at the Holiday Inn Convention Center, in Cape Girardeau.

"All fish farmers, educators and anyone interested in or associated with the region's aquaculture industry are encouraged to join us for this year's conference," said Joe Myers, aquaculture specialist with the Missouri Department of Agriculture. "Missouri producers selected this year's session topics based on their personal experiences in the business, so conference attendees will be able to learn first hand the challenges and opportunities associated with aquaculture."

Pre-registration before Feb. 11 is $50, which includes a free gift, and $65 after that date or on-site. The evening banquet and auction is $25. These prices do not include room accommodations.

For more information about the 2000 Missouri Aquaculture Association annual meeting and conference, call 573-526-6666 or write to: Joe Myers, Aquaculture Specialist, Missouri Department of Agriculture, Market Development Division, PO Box 630, Jefferson City, MO 65102.

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