The following letter, dated Dec. 4, was sent to Arkansas fish farmers by Ted McNulty, director of the aquaculture division at the Arkansas Department of Agriculture. With permission, it has been edited by Delta Farm Press.

On PetroSun BioFuels and the Catfish Farmers of Arkansas annual meeting…

I have arranged for representatives from PetroSun BioFuels to present their Aquaculture Algae to Algal Oil program to farm pond owners at the Catfish Farmers of Arkansas annual meeting being held at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Hot Springs, Ark., Jan. 23-24. PetroSun presentations will begin at 8 a.m. on Jan. 24. All farm pond owners in Arkansas are invited to attend this meeting.

The PetroSun BioFuels Aquaculture Lease Program proposes to secure the surface rights of existing ponds for the purpose of effectuating its proprietary algae-to-biofuels technology in a commercial algae farm system operation. The Aquaculture Lease Program provides the pond owner with an advanced base rent incentive, royalty income on a monthly basis from algal oil and algae biomass production and a potential future benefit from a carbon credit program.

The aquaculture lease program does not require the farmer to participate in the farming of algae. PetroSun BioFuels will produce the feedstock, and will pay the pond owner an agreed upon lease amount for the use of their property. The farm is subject to a qualification process. For more information on PetroSun Inc., please visit their Web site at http://www.petrosuninc.com/alternative-energy.html.”

On a reduced-rate energy plan…

Recently, an Arkansas aquaculture contingent “met with Entergy officials about a reduced electric rate for fish farmers. Entergy has agreed to include aquaculture in an agriculture rate plan that is scheduled to be presented to the Public Service Commission (PSC) in April. If the rate plan is approved, it could lower the cost of electricity to fish farmers by 20 percent.

Entergy would install a control system and have the right to turn the electricity off at participating farms between noon and 6 p.m.

In an effort to assist Entergy, I have agreed to collect information from those who are interested in the program. After Entergy receives the information from me, your name will be added to their list of farmers to contact. This will help to speed up the process for fish farmers.

I will need the following information: Entergy Arkansas account number; name on the Entergy account; mailing address or bill address of the account; and location or description of the account billing address.

This information can be sent by e-mail, fax or mailed to our office. Our new fax number is (870) 575-7627.

On an FSA disaster ruling…

The Farm Service Agency (FSA) has withdrawn their adverse determination in declaring, “excessive heat is considered a preferable growing condition for food fish.” Disaster Number S2142, for Excessive Heat, started May 1, 2005, and ended April 30, 2006. All counties in Arkansas are eligible under this disaster designation.

The FSA had rejected all applicants under the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) for losses to food fish during 2005. It had already been determined that fry and fingerlings 5 inches and less were eligible. The FSA state committee met Dec. 8 to reconsider their adverse determination on food fish and I encourage all catfish farmers to visit their county FSA office, if you feel that you incurred losses. These losses are covered under the LIP program. Please ask for a copy of DAP-9. This information will be helpful in determining and proving your losses. If you have received disaster grant money previously from my office due to feed losses incurred in 2005, you are still eligible for this program.