Producing Excellence shares compelling stories of American farmers and ranchers, both newcomers to agriculture and producers who span generations.
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Quality Seafood, Gar Seafood, Philly Seafood
Size of Operation: 4 million pounds annually
Years in Business: 60
Farm Credit Partner: Capital Farm Credit
Years Working with Farm Credit: 25
Of the many million pounds of shrimp eaten in homes and restaurants across the U.S. each year, a large percentage are caught by one family operating out of Texas. The Garcias do more than just catch the shrimp, though: they’ve also established their own marketing company, selling their product through retailers and distributors throughout the country.
Edward Garcia, Sr. and his four sons own two separate companies that together operate 30 shrimping boats, many of which were acquired with financing by Capital Farm Credit. During shrimping season, which runs from July through February, these boats roam the fertile Gulf of Mexico searching for schools of shrimp deep under the water. Once a school is located, large nets haul up the catch, which is sorted by size, deheaded, washed, brined and frozen – all while on the boat. “Our shrimp are frozen within an hour of being harvested,” says Regina Pena, Edward’s daughter who is a shareholder and president of Philly Seafood, the family’s marketing company and another Capital Farm Credit customer. “It’s a very fresh, frozen product.”
Each boat typically holds 10 – 40,000 thousand pounds of shrimp, though some can be loaded with up to 60,000 pounds. Each boat stays out on the water until it needs to re-stock supplies, usually 45 days or so, but sometimes up to 80 days at a time. That’s a long stretch away from shore and represents a significant investment. “Before a boat leaves the dock, we’ve made a large financial investment in fuel and supplies,” Regina says. In fact, it is because of this investment that the boats stay out until they’ve caught their load – traveling back and forth between the sea and shore would increase fuel costs dramatically.
Fuel costs, as well as import pressures and labor reform, are certainly concerns for the Garcias, but this year something else is also top of mind; while the 2010 oil spill didn’t come into Texas waters, 70% of the shrimp in the Gulf come from eggs released in Louisiana estuaries. Because of the lifecycle of the shrimp, this is the first full season since the spill, and while government testing has assured the safety of the product, there is uncertainty about the number of shrimp they’ll be finding.
“We won’t know until the season opens in July,” says Regina. “But we hope for the best year ever.”