Advisory committees help Virginia’s oyster growers thrive

Virginia’s shellfish industry continues to thrive and grow, and on Aug. 5 shellfish lovers everywhere will celebrate National Oyster Day.

Virginia Farm Bureau’s Aquaculture Advisory Committee meets twice a year to assess the strength of the industry and to address concerns of the state’s cultured shellfish growers.

According to the 2015 Virginia Shellfish Aquaculture Situation and Outlook Report issued earlier this year, Virginia shellfish producers sold $48.3 million in clams and oysters last year. Virginia’s hard clam sales of $32.3 million once again led the nation, while its $16 million in oyster sales is the front-runner among East Coast states.

The report provides an assessment of trends and projections in Virginia’s shellfish industry.

The state’s cultured shellfish industry “continues to be a shining star of Virginia’s diversified agriculture,” said Spencer Neale, vice president of commodity marketing for the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. “While both clams and oysters took a dip in overall sales in 2015, the long-running strength of our clam aquaculture industry coupled with tremendous growth of cultured oysters over the past several years reflects a part of Virginia’s agriculture that is robust.”

Now in its 10th year, the report is conducted by the Marine Advisory Services program at the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences. It is available online at

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