Next week, the Illinois Corn Growers Association and the Illinois Corn Marketing Board will meet in Metropolis, IL where visiting the Olmstead Lock and Dam is convenient.  The Olmstead Lock was designed to replace one lock of many along the Illinois, Mississippi, and Ohio River systems that are broken down and in need of repair.  But years of work and millions of dollars later, the Olmstead Lock still isn’t operational and what work has been done is already in need of repair before the lock has even been used!  Does this interest you?  Read on …

In October, President Barack Obama said “We’ve lost our ambition, our imagination and our willingness to do the things that built the Golden Gate Bridge and Hoover Dam and unleashed all the potential in this country.”

Throughout our nation’s history, our country has never lacked willingness to unleash its vast potential, but rather seems to have lost its willpower to bolster the foundations that made us who we are in the world, chief among them our nation’s transportation infrastructure. And the locks and dams on our nation’s rivers, many of the most important of which are in the Upper Mississippi River Basin, are critically important for creating jobs and expanding exports.

It took from 1933 to 1937 to build the Golden Gate Bridge. Construction on the Hoover Dam began in 1930, and the last concrete was poured in 1935, at a cost of $49 million. But today, lock and dam projects costs have soared out of control. For example, Olmsted Locks and Dam on the Ohio River was initially estimated to cost $775 million but now has ballooned to more than $2.1 billion. This additional cost is passed on to all consumers from food to electricity to oil prices.

Some of the oldest locks and dams on the inland system are in the Upper Mississippi River Basin. Age deterioration, inefficient federal infrastructure funding and more than $400 million in backlogged critical maintenance are pushing that part of the waterways system toward catastrophe.

The US’s rivers and its infrastructure serve as an important partner to its industry, as the state’s steel, ore, coal, chemicals and aggregate materials are transported on the rivers to their destination within the state, throughout the United States and abroad for export. Its rivers also provide other benefits such as stable pools of water behind the dams that offer drinking water, irrigation and vast recreation opportunities.

The state’s and nation’s agricultural sector — the only sector of the U.S. economy that consistently posts a positive trade balance — simply could not compete and sell its products worldwide if not for the presence of the waterways that allow more than 60 percent of grain products to be transported to export ports in the most competitive way.

And we can’t discount the other commodities that move on the waterways: 20 percent of the coal that is used to power our nation’s electricity (much of it from Pennsylvania coal mines) and 22 percent of our petroleum products. Moving these products on the waterways keep prices low for consumers and the other modes, like rail and truck, competitive.

This is no more important than today in tough economic conditions. But these commodities and the shippers who grow and produce them are in danger of losing their competitive edge unless we give needed focus on and proper funding for the lock and dam infrastructure that allows their transport.

In this country, with unemployment stubbornly holding steady at 9 percent and the number even higher in the construction industry, jobs are another commodity that we cannot afford not to invest in.

Building locks and dams on the waterways system will create and sustain American, family-wage jobs in Pennsylvania. There is a road map for modernizing our lock and dam system, growing our exports, keeping the positive balance of trade in the agriculture industry and adding jobs to the U.S. economy known as the Inland Waterways Capital Development Plan or CDP.

The CDP is a consensus-based plan developed by the navigation industry and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The idea is to nationally prioritize navigation projects through objective criteria such as economic benefit and project condition; efficiently fund and complete 25 navigation projects in 20 years versus just six projects under the current broken model; better utilize taxpayer dollars and complete projects by American workers on time and on budget; seek standardization and design centers of expertise; and enable exports to increase.

Jim Tarmann, Illinois Corn membership Jim Tarmann
ICGA/ICMB Field Services Director


Illinois corn farmers are writing a letter to Santa; what’s on our list?  Today we continue with item two… less government regulation!  Thanks to Thomas Martin, SIU student, for this series focusing on IL Corn’s top priorities!

Initially it is easier to attack government regulations (it is like that fruit cake that nobody wants), than it is to take the moral “high ground” and stick up for government involvement (kind of like Pabst Blue Ribbon – not smooth or drinkable but it’s “cool” to claim you like it even though we all know you don’t). To me the truth is that government has a role to play but it is a delicate balancing act that, when off kilter, is either overly liberating or poisonous to business. No doubt about it, I consider myself woven with the same political cloth that makes up the Heartland of small constitutional government but as I like to think (perhaps oxymoronically), I’m a pragmatist first in politics.   I don’t think that this is a distant thought process for rural Americans because at our core, “pragmatic” defines us.

There is no doubt that the government does have a role to play in agriculture and business. Just as pure communism is impossible, pure unregulated capitalism is undesirable and perhaps dangerous. I appreciate having public roads, public waterways  – though they need major renovations – standard weights and measures, a justice system that is just, etc. I even think that we can agree that government has done a good job with starting agricultural research, developing infrastructure through cooperatives such as rural electric and telephone, promoting education in agriculture through 4-H, FFA, PAS, and other programs.

I grew up along Old US Route 66, a major endeavor of its time, which served as the progenitor (along with the German Autobahn) to the US interstate system that has made it to where I can easily reach Amarillo by morning from my home in Montgomery County! I certainly would be naïve and ungrateful to blindly attack the government. But whoever said I was wise or gracious? There are also lots of flaws in the government and regulations are like a hand tightening around the neck of farmers and small business.

For instance we have that ridiculous proposal to ban dust, or that rule the US Department of Labor wants to implement essentially strangling the future of agriculture by banning students from working through supervised agricultural experiences programs (aka “coop” or “work study”). Then there are the political traumas such as our bizarre trade barriers with Cuba (keep in mind that last I checked the Cold War is over and we’ve been trading with Russia and China for sometime) or the hold-ups to improve our crumbling infrastructure as outlined in yesterday’s blog post.

What’s next? Ban nitrogen applications and genetic research? There is no question that the underlying issue we must continue to grapple with is and will likely continue to be engaging logical conversations instead of idiotic rants about doomsday scenarios (GMOs after all are a conspiracy like the moon landing, John Lennon, JFK and Colonel Sanders).

When we write Santa this year and our congressional representatives about the latest stupidity to be translated into legal speak (like the proposal Senator Jim DeMint had to ban all commodity check-off programs) let’s remember that while we should be disgusted with the shockingly idiotic legislation, we do need to have the government investing in infrastructure and to provide a safety net.

We certainly have a strong gust of wind ready to push us over with regulations so we must stay vigilant! There are constantly proposals for legislative and regulatory measures that seek to destroy and cripple modern agriculture.

If you’re not a member of a commodity group or general farm/agriculture organization then take this time to help yourself and JOIN! Don’t be humble when it comes to public advocacy – write those letters and make those phone calls. Be aware of the constant threats to eliminate that meat from your table through legislation, rule changes and judicial activism.

Thomas Martin, Raymond, IL
Senior in Agricultural Systems
Southern Illinois University

Read about the other items on our Christmas list:
1. Upgraded Locks and Dams


Illinois corn farmers are writing a letter to Santa; what’s on our list?  Today we start with item one … upgraded locks and dams!  Thanks to Thomas Martin, SIU student, for this series focusing on IL Corn’s top priorities!

When I was a little kid we sang a Christmas song that went “over the river and through the woods.” As someone who loves driving and travel in general I especially enjoy the opportunity to observe highway phenomena like bridges, ferries, fords (the crossings – I drive a flex fuel Chevy!), etc. My friends often poke fun at my often ridiculous road trips and escapades in and around the Prairie State. Unfortunately all too often I find my adventures “over the river and through the woods” to be a little gut wrenching as those bridges over the river show their age and the ferries close down service. Not only that but our freight trains are running on old tracks and our highways have taken a beating. Not to mention the major trade issue we face with the crumbling locks and dams.

Don’t believe our infrastructure is falling behind? I personally welcome you to join me in a little trip around Illinois then! Let’s visit river bridges such as Brookport, Florence, Cairo and Chester. Let’s see the difficulty and dependence that communities like Cave-in-Rock, Meyer, Modoc, and Calhoun County have on ferries.  Let’s experience the sorry state of highways on state maintained frontage roads let alone our other highways and rural roads (Union County has some dandy drives).  Unfortunately I can’t as easily show you the sickening display that our river ways are in nor can I fully express the magnitude of such a problem as they are off the “beaten path”.

(Check out this video of a lock wall just falling into the river!)

This past summer I got to travel over the river, through the woods right down to Panama and Colombia (the countries not the towns in Montgomery and Monroe Counties) where I got to observe something that seemed truly foreign to a young whipper snapper like me – infrastructure investment!  You might not have caught the gravity of that – Panama, is investing (putting in improvements for future gains) in their infrastructure. There they are adding in another lane to the Panama Canal. Soon enough travel will be even faster and trade far greater on the canal. Again you might not be picking up on this, soon one will be able to more efficiently travel 40 miles through the Panama Canal meanwhile our barges are stuck in lines with our outdated locks.

My friends, I don’t have to get on my soapbox (though it is a pastime for me) but we need to get serious about American excellence (yeah I’m definitely on the soapbox now). How are we going to make meaningful investment in the mid and long term? I remember as a kid getting to take barge tours through locks on the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers and besides remembering how cool it was (plus the free soda and can cozies) I remember seeing leaks and large cracks on our locks. Is that what we expect to continue on for the future with? Outdated, crumbling infrastructure that is too limited to even allow for competitive trade?

This issue goes beyond our own state, this is a national issue with local, national and global consequences. Our waterways give farmers in Illinois a trade advantage when it comes to market access and the ability to export commodities. Our waterways also offer the most efficient means of transportation in both an economical sense as well as in a “carbon” sense as it requires far less fuel to move a pound of goods via barge than it does using rail or trucks.

We need adequate and modern river transportation, we need strong rail systems and we need sound bridges in order to facilitate transportation not only for agricultural commodities but also for our families as we travel “over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house”.  It should go without saying, this Christmas we need to make sure that we “CC” our congressional representatives on our letters to Santa because we must keep up safe infrastructure here in the Midwest and across our country.

Thomas Martin
Southern Illinois University student
Agricultural Systems Major


You may have heard of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources campaign “Target Hunger Now!” to help feed hungry families in Illinois.  They have worked with sportsmen and meat processors to provide donated venison with much success.   And now commercial fishermen and processors can be added to the list. 

In March of 2011, the Illinois Department of Public Health approved Asian carp harvested from the Mississippi and lower Illinois Rivers for human consumption.  Like most fish, Asian carp is rich in protein and protein is the single most expensive food source to provide to the less fortunate.  Because it is so expensive, it also means that protein is the food source most lacking in diets of those who are most in need.  With “Target Hunger Now!” as much as 40,000 pounds of fish can be processed daily, combine that with the donated venison in the Illinois food bank system and it equates to approximately 3.3 million protein-rich meals available free to those who are facing hunger in our communities. 

This not only helps families in need, but also helps another problem.  Asian carp have been spreading across Illinois rivers and streams, killing off native species.  If you remember, keeping the fish out of the Great Lakes was a subject of much debate last summer.  In fact, the O’Brien Lock and Chicago Lock were closed for a period of time to keep the fish out, which also meant additional time and money to get needed products to the Chicagoland area.  By adding Asian carp to the “Target Hunger Now!” campaign, officials hope to create demand so that commercial fishing will reduce the carp’s numbers.   

The state plans to promote Asian carp as a tasty food later this month with a cooking demonstration in Chicago.  But if you can’t attend, there are many tasty recipes available for Asian carp and venison here.      

Becky Finfrock
ICGA/ICMB Communications Assistant


Four times this year, as many as 16 men working at Lock 52 on the Ohio River near Brookport, Illinois, have climbed onto a floating platform to hook 487 wooden barriers on the river floor to a steam-powered crane.

It takes as long as 30 hours to pull up the wickets, one by one, to form a dam that adjusts water levels to keep the river navigable, a process that’s automated elsewhere. Deterioration of the 82-year-old lock, the busiest by shipping tonnage in the U.S. inland-waterways system, risks a breakdown that could snarl $17 billion a year in shipments of coal, grain and steel. A project to replace Lock 52 and its downstream twin is 18 years
behind schedule.

American Electric Power Co., the largest U.S. electricity generator, is so reliant on coal barges navigating Lock 52 that its failure may lead to power outages for some of its 5.3
million customers, said Mark Knoy, president of AEP River Operations.

“I want to be careful not to cause too much concern but that’s the reality of the situation,” he said. “Lock 52 is critically important, but any lock failure on inland  waterways would have a direct impact on the economy, not just at our power plants but for oil refiners, steel companies and others.”

Although President Barack Obama proposes spending about 88 percent of his inland waterways budget next year on a project to replace Lock 52 and Lock 53 downstream, work won’t be completed until 2018.

Billions Needed

About 12,000 miles of rivers weave through the U.S. heartland, carrying almost $70 billion in goods annually, according to Waterways Council Inc., an industry group. Lock 52 handles $17 billion in annual shipments, according to the council.

About 20,500 barges operate on the Mississippi River and connecting waterways including the Ohio, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee and Cumberland rivers, according to a 2010 report by Informa Economics Inc., a Memphis, Tennessee-based research

About $7 billion will be needed over 20 years to keep inland waterways navigable, said Rick Calhoun, president of Cargill Marine and Terminal Inc. Minneapolis-based Cargill Inc., which depends on inland waterways to transport grain, is the largest closely held company in the U.S.

Delays caused by lock breakdowns “add to the cost of shipping whether it’s the end product to the consumer or by making products less competitive on the world market,” Calhoun said in a telephone interview.

Advocating Tax Increase

U.S. inland waterways projects are financed by a 20-cent-a gallon fuel tax on barge and tow operators. The tax provides about $85 million a year and is matched by federal funds.

Companies and industry groups are asking Congress for a 35 percent increase in the tax, Calhoun said.  “The only people who pay the fuel tax are the tow boat industry, and we’re asking for an increase,” he said.

Congress will consider the industry’s request if the money is dedicated to inland waterways, said Representative Bob Gibbs, an Ohio Republican, who chairs the House Water Resources and Environment subcommittee.

“This is more like a user fee rather than a tax,” Gibbs said in a telephone interview. “If this is something the industry wants, we’ll be willing to look at it.”

Congress allocated $775 million in 1988 to replace Locks 52 and 53, and construction was expected to be completed in 2000, said Cornel Martin, chief executive officer of the Waterways Council, based in Arlington, Virginia. The estimated cost of replacing Locks 52 and 53 has climbed to $2.1 billion because of the delays, he said.

Funds Diverted

Money has been diverted over the years to emergency repairs on other locks or other projects requested by members of Congress, said Calhoun, who is chairman of the council’s board. 

“It’s devastating to see what’s happening to the inland waterways because of lack of funding,” Mike Morris, chief executive officer of Columbus, Ohio-based AEP, said in an

In 2004, $20.6 million of Lock 52’s funding was redirected to repair the McAlpine Lock in Louisville, Kentucky, after a gate failed, resulting in a 10-day shutdown, according to a
report by the Corps of Engineers. Money to repair the McAlpine Lock was authorized in 1991 but shifted to other projects, the report said.

“We’re seeing that going on across the system,” Martin said. If Locks 52 and 53 were fixed, “it would save shippers hundreds of millions of dollars,” he said.

1,050 Trucks

Obama’s fiscal 2012 budget dedicated $170 million to the Inland Waterways Trust Fund. Of that about $150 million of the amount would go to the Olmsted Dam and Lock project, which will replace Locks 52 and 53.

“We’re on track with funding this year to make the progress we need, but it’s hard to predict if the funding stream will continue or not,” said Carol Labashosky, a Corps of
Engineers spokeswoman.

AEP, which in 2012 will move 36 million tons of coal along the Ohio River to 25 power plants, is bracing for a complete breakdown of Lock 52 by 2015 because of its age and lack of maintenance, Knoy said. That may cause power outages as coal supplies dwindle, Knoy said.

If the lock fails, 1,050 tractor trailer trucks per day would be needed to replace the barge loads, he said.

Lock 52 was down for 32 days in September and October 2010, resulting in as much as 206 hours of traffic delays for AEP, Knoy said. That added $1.70 per ton in costs on 972,000 tons of coal, increasing AEP’s shipping costs by $4.6 million, he said.

 1929 Technology

 Nucor Corp., the biggest U.S. steel producer by market value, ships about 4 million tons of raw material, including pig iron, and finished products, like tubing and piping, on the inland waterways, said John Guin, materials manager for the Charlotte, North Carolina-based company.

“A lot of our mills are located by the river and that’s not by accident,” Guin said in an interview. “With the congestion on the highways and railroads and the weight of our
materials, the inland waterways are critical to our business.”

The wickets that make up the dam at Lock 52 lay across the floor of the Ohio River attached to hinges.

When the wickets must be hoisted, two of the 16 men lean over the floating platform’s edge to attach what Labashosky called “oversize crochet hooks” to holes at the top of the wicket. The men hook the wickets one by one to the crane, which pulls them into place to form the dam.

The work is done much the same way as it was in 1929, when the lock opened, said Randy Robertson, Lock 52 lock master, in an interview.

“It’s dangerous, backbreaking work, but it was the technology of the time and we’re still dealing with that technology,” Martin said.

By Carol Wolf

–Editors: Bernard Kohn, Joe Winski

To contact the reporter on this story: Carol Wolf in Washington at +1-202-624-1868 or
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Bernard Kohn at +1-202-654-7361 or


Now that you’ve celebrated Merry Christmas and are happily staying warm until Happy New Year, I invite you to join us for VIDEO WEEK!

Yes, this week, Corn Corps will celebrate the holiday by bringing you interesting, informative, and intriguing videos from YouTube that address agriculture.

Today, we share an oldie but a goodie to keep this, our top priority, in the forefront of your minds. Improvements in our river transportation system are imparative if Illinois farmers are to compete in a global marketplace.

If you liked this post, you might enjoy:


Dear Santa,

Over the past year Illinois farmers feel that they have been very well behaved. We have worked diligently to once again feed the world while making several changes to help our environment, protect the safety of our consumers, and produce high quality products. In fact, America’s corn farmers have cut soil erosion forty-four percent by using innovative conservation tillage methods! As far as yields are concerned, nationwide there has been a twenty percent increase since the year 2000. We hope that you will please take our Christmas list into consideration and do whatever you can to help us make the best better in the agricultural industry. Have a Merry Christmas!

Yours Truly,

Illinois Corn


  1. Free trade agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama.
  2. Corn based ethanol to be allowed to qualify as an advanced biofuel
  3. Upgraded locks and dams.

Due to Illinois’ geographical location, upgrading locks and dams is vital to our economy. The Mississippi and Illinois Rivers allow Illinois corn farmers to transport their grains all over the world. By utilizing the locks and dams system we are protecting the environment, being energy efficient, preventing congestion on our roadways, providing American jobs, and staying competitive in the world trade market.

Many industries (Illinois Corn is one!) that realize how vital lock and dam upgrades really are have come together in order to help the progress of the upgrades. In fact, the users of the river system have even agreed to increase the fuel tax in order to assist in the funding of the project. Farmers need efficient means to get their product to market so desperately that even with the additional costs, they are money ahead! 

And when record federal deficits are the headline in every paper, farmers and barge companies realize what they have to do to get this done.  There are very few groups that are currently willing to fund part of their own project.

There are only a few things that I can add that you probably haven’t already read in the fourteen year time span that Illinois corn has worked for upgraded locks and dams on the Mississippi and Illinois.  And actually, maybe you already knew some of these things too.

  • One barge has the same capacity of seventy semi trucks and sixteen railcars.
  • A barge can travel five hundred and seventy six miles on one gallon of fuel.
  • The present locks and dams were built in the 1930s and 1940s when the paddleboats that Mark Twain writes of traveled the Mississippi. 
  • Panama is nearing completion of their canal expansion, allowing even larger vessels through to the US.  We don’t have the infrastructure to accommodate those larger vessels or their cargo.
  • The Pacific Northwest transportation system is at capacity.  If we plan to increase exports, we will have to utilize the Mississippi River system.

Kelsey Vance
Illinois State University student

If you liked this post, check out:


Having just come off of several policy and priority setting meetings with Illinois corn farmers all over the state, I feel very confident of this fact: selling corn for export outside of the country is the largest market for Illinois corn.

The reasons for this are simple. Illinois has a great location on three major rivers: the Illinois, the Ohio, and the mighty Mississippi. With adequate and efficient river transportation, we are a powerhouse of exporting capacity.

However, that stands to change. Illinois corn farmers are continuing to increase yields exponentially, and export markets aren’t dwindling. But the simple fact is that our current infrastructure no longer allows for the efficient transportation of our goods to market … and it’s going to get worse.

Apparently the Army Corps of Engineers has typically maintained the authorized depth of 45 feet on the Mississippi by dredging. When they were not allocated enough funds to dredge and maintain this depth, they “reprogrammed” funds from other projects, speculating that maintaining the authorized depth was the most important. However, as their fiscal year 2011 began, ACE announced that they would no longer “reprogram” funds to dredge and would stay within the budgeted funding amount.

The problem is exacerbated by the fact that the river is currently at its lowest levels in a decade. Certain points in the river are already becoming unsafe for larger ships and passage is restricted to daylight only. When spring comes with its additional rains and runoff, ACE warns that they will only be able to guarantee 40 feet instead of the 45-47 feed that shippers need.

This means shipping is less efficient, grain prices will drop, and American’s will lose out to foreign buyers.

Bottom line, America’s failure to make long term investments in its infrastructure is an insurmountable hurdle, this dredging issue AND the larger issue of needed lock and dam improvements included. President Obama has already declared his intent to double exports over the next five years. Although an ambitious goal, Americans can produce and other countries will demand enough to make this possible, if only our transportation system would allow it.

There is no way we can double exports if cargo ships cannot use the Mississippi River. Experts indicate that the Pacific Northwest is already at 100% capacity. This means any increased growth in US exports must travel to market via the Mississippi River system and when that system is broken, how exactly does the President plan to get the additional goods out of America?

Corn farmers have been shouting it and we’ll continue until someone finally listens.  We need investment in river infrastructure.

Come on, folks.  If Brazil and Panama can do it, so can we.

Jim Tarmann

If you liked this post, check out:


Labor Day, the day we American’s celebrate our nation’s workforce, is a great day to announce plans for more jobs. I definitely understand what President Obama was thinking when he stood in Milwaukee, WI and announced plans for massive infrastructure investment, which will not only modernize American roads, rails, and runways, but will also create millions of jobs.

What I don’t understand is the conspicuous absence of funding for upgraded locks and dams.

Will investment in waterway transportation create jobs? Yes. Updating our waterway infrastructure will create 48 million hours of labor for skilled trade workers throughout the Midwest.

Does investment in waterway transportation offer a return on investment? Definitely. America’s inland waterway navigation system moves more than a billion tons of domestic commerce valued at more than $300 billion per year. Agricultural products are a significant portion of that commerce and agriculture is one industry with potential to pull our economy out of the black hole it’s in.

Does investment in waterway transportation garner industry support? Undoubtedly. The shipping industry is the only industry stepping forward to provide additional funding streams for upgrades to their system that will match federal dollars. In other words, upgrading locks and dams provides jobs and return on investment in a much bigger dose than other projects because the industry is financing a portion of the project.

So what’s the problem? I’m not sure. President Obama used to support lock and dam upgrades. As a US Senator he was an advocate for upgraded locks and dams and even played a key role in the passage of the Water Resources Development Act of 2007 that now simply sits for lack of funding. He used to be in favor of allowing the US to be competitive in a global market. He used to understand that Midwestern agriculture, the powerhouse of the American economy, relied on efficient infrastructure to get goods to markets all across the globe.

What’s changed? Again, I’m not sure. What I do know is that investment in waterway transportation offers a greener option for transporting goods, a bundle of great jobs for Midwestern workers, and a means to allow agriculture to further drive our country out of an economic mess.

All I know for sure is that that no matter what question I ask, upgraded locks and dams are the answer. More jobs, greener transportation, supportive to our nation’s largest economic powerhouse …

Mr. President, where are the locks and dams?

Jim Tarmann
Frustrated IL Corn Waterway Transportation Specialist


The summer 2010 issue of Our Mississippi brings silver fin (AKA Asian Carp) to the forefront, positioning it as both a delicacy and an important tactic to control the Asian Carp population.

According to Baton Rouge, LA chef Philippe Parola, the first step is “rebranding.” He says that the fish tastes like crabmeat and scallops and included several recipes for the readers at home to try silver fin which I’ve provided below.

Remember, the multitudes of Asian Carp in Illinois waterways and prevention measures to keep them out of the Great Lakes were a subject of much debate earlier in the year. In fact, the O’Brien Lock and Chicago Lock were closed for a period of time this year to keep the fish out, which also meant additional time and money to get needed products to the Chicagoland area.

Perhaps repositioning the fish, which is actually the oldest domesticated fish species in the world and has been farmed for at least 3,000 years in Asia, as a valued Illinois product (The state of Illinois has recently signed an agreement to export the fish to China!) is just the ticket to move the needle on this debate.

Silver fin fried strips

16 silver fin fish filets (boneless if possible, bones easily removed by boiling)
2 eggs
1 cup of half & half for eggwash
1 cup of Louisiana fish fry seasoned flour
Peckapepper mango sauce for dipping

Preheat fryer at 350, in a bowl beat eggs, then add half & half and stir well to make egg wash. Place the silver fin strips into egg wash, then coat each strip with the seasoned flour. Fry until done and serve with Peckapepper mango sauce.
Serves 4.

Silver fin with fresh berries

4 silver fin fish filets
2 ounces each: raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and grapes
2 tablespoons pecan oil
2 ounces unsalted butter
2 tablespoons heavy cream
3 ounces white wine
1 lemon, juiced
1 orange, juiced
Seasoning to taste

Heat pecan oil and better in a sauté skillet until very hot. Brown seasoned silver fin on both sides, then add white wine and juices from lemon and orange. Bring to a boil, then add all the fresh berries and boil for 3 minutes over medium high heat. Stir in cream and season to taste.
Serves 4.

Silver fin cakes

1 pound silver fin white meat
4 ounces unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 eggs
1 ounce bread crumbs
Seasoned flour
Seasoning and hot sauce to taste

Poach or steam silver fin meat until fully cooked, then break it up in pieces to remove bones. Place meat into a mixing bowl and add butter, mustard, 1 egg and lemon juice. Mix well. Add bread crumbs and season to taste. Roll into small cakes. To make egg wash, beat one egg with 2 tablespoons water. Dip fish into egg wash, then seasoned flour. Fry.
Serves 4.

Rodney Weinzierl
ICGA/ICMB Executive Director