Indiana Lt. Governor Rebecca S. Skillman and the Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) have recognized Bell Aquaculture LLC for excellence in progressive farm practices. The announcement is made by Norman McCowan, President & CEO, who says Bell Aquaculture recently completed the voluntary ISDA Certified Livestock Producer Program (CLPP) in order to qualify for the review and is the first aquaculture facility in Indiana and one of only a few in the nation to receive this type of designation.
“We are thrilled that our operation has received this recognition,” McCowan says. “The yellow perch that we’re raising, the Bell PerchTM, is a higher quality product from the standpoint that there is no real possibility of contaminants entering into their food chain during their growth. We have absolute control over our water supply, since they are raised in-house there is no opportunity for bird predation, pesticides or herbicides to get into the flesh of the fish that you and I might sit down to eat.”
Bell Aquaculture was founded in 2005 in Albany Indiana. Sitting on 53 acres this yellow perch farm is the largest in the country. The production facility incorporates 43 acres of ground and is located in Albany Indiana, with the vision of processing over 6 1/2 million fish by 2015.
“Our Indiana livestock and poultry producers’ personal values embody integrity, responsibility and accountability,” Lt. Governor Becky Skillman said recently in a prepared statement. “These values and more are required to complete this program. I congratulate Bell Aquaculture who now joins other exceptional producers who have demonstrated their commitment to these values through using progressive practices and procedures.”
To be recognized by ISDA as a Certified Livestock Producer, participants must complete the highest industry standards in environmental protection, animal health, bio-security, emergency planning and good neighbor relations. They also agree to sign the Producer Promise, committing to meet or exceed the high standards of the Certified Livestock Producer Program as a commitment to the citizens of the State of Indiana.
“We commend Bell Aquaculture for being a leader and spokesperson for the industry,” said Indiana Agriculture Director Joe Kelsay. “We believe this program will continue to serve as an invaluable tool to increase awareness of Indiana livestock producers’ commitment to provide high-quality and wholesome food.”
Bell PerchTM Yellow Perch
Yellow perch is one of the most popular of all North American pan fish. It has a mild, sweet flavor with firm white flesh and low fat levels, making it a favorite in residential and commercial kitchens alike. There’s no taste difference from wild-caught like some other farmed species. In years past, yellow perch was the fish typically served at Friday Night Fish Fries in the Great Lakes region, particularly during Lent (the period prior to Easter).
“The greatest difficulty in recent years has been the availability of yellow perch out of Lake Michigan and Lake Erie – the two predominant lakes for the supply of wild-caught yellow perch,” explains McCowan. “Which means restaurants that were typically serving customers who enjoy the taste of yellow perch and individual consumers, just couldn’t get the supply. Or, in some cases, they are getting lesser quality fish and selling it as yellow perch.”
The vision for a yellow perch farm was born when Founder Michael Miller became personally interested in aquaculture in 1994. After studying this science and becoming involved in the Indiana Aquaculture Association, Inc. (IAAI), he developed a dream to bring the local and personal favorite, yellow perch, back to the area.
As McCowan says, “What started out as an idea on a Post-it note, ended up being 17 file cabinets of information.” So after more than 12 years of research, consulting fish experts and a lot of hard work, Bell Aquaculture was formed in 2005.
Bell Aquaculture is committed to these four guiding principles in producing its fish:
1) Controlled indoor environment
2) Toxin & mercury free – no hormones used
3) Healthy growth
4) Gentle to the environment
About the Certified Livestock Producer Program
Lt. Governor Skillman launched the Certified Livestock Producer Program in July 2008. Since that time, 29 Hoosier farmers have earned the certification. Indiana is one of only a handful of states to have a voluntary program that recognizes farmers for their commitment to innovative and top industry standards. For more information, visit http://www.in.gov/isda/2400.htm
Posted on 9/7/10.