Maryland Agricultural & Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation

Maryland Shellfish Aquaculture Loan Program

To apply, see the Applications page.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has formed a partnership with the Maryland Agricultural and Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation (MARBIDCO) to provide affordable financing to watermen and other parties who want to start or expand commercial shellfish aquaculture operations in Maryland. The University of Maryland Extension (UME) is also contributing to this effort by providing training and business planning assistance to current and prospective shellfish growers.

Shellfish aquaculture business start-up expenses can run from $5,000 to more than $100,000 depending on the scope of the enterprise. Obtaining a loan from traditional commercial lenders for aquaculture business projects can be challenging for small enterprises and individuals considering the two- to three-year growing period between oyster planting and growth to market size, as well as frequently the lack of available business equity and collateral security.

Maryland’s aquaculture loan program is a subsidized program with all principal payments returning to a revolving fund to support future rounds of future funding.  The loan program also offers a partial loan forgiveness element for borrowers meeting certain performance conditions. MARBIDCO is pricing the loans at a fixed annual interest rate not to exceed 5%.  A Shellfish Aquaculture Financing Committee including representatives from DNR, UME, a Maryland farm credit association, and MARBIDCO will evaluate the credit worthiness of the prospective borrower(s), as well as the viability of the proposed project production and business plan (including the financial projections) that are required to be submitted with the application for assistance.

Since 2011, MARBIDCO approved over 50 shellfish aquaculture loans totaling over $3 million. Persons holding one or more State commercial shellfish aquaculture leases (or who have applied for a commercial shellfish lease) are eligible to apply, although some funding is limited to holders of a tidal fisheries license. In addition, all applicants must have production and business plans that demonstrate the financial feasibility of the planned aquaculture operation.  Other useful information concerning shellfish aquaculture can be found on the internet at:

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MARBIDCO Loan Programs

Maryland Resource-Based Industry Financing Fund Loan (MRBIFF)

Maryland Vineyard Planting Loan Fund (MVPLF)

Rural Business Equipment and Working Capital Fund Loan (RBEWCL)

Forestry Equipment and Working Capital Loan Fund (FEWCL)

Rural Business Energy Efficiency Improvement Loan Fund (RBEEIL)

Maryland Shellfish Aquaculture Loan Fund (MSAL)

Maryland Remote Setting Shellfish Aquaculture Loan Fund (MRSA)

Business Planning Template



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