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i'm interested mainly in the business end of aquaponics, so here are some questions that have been proposed to me over the last few years. granted my responses are going to be my personal opinions and will be open to full discussion.

 

Does being a back yard warrior of aquapopnics qualify you to give training sessions for profit?

 

depends on what you're training. if you're going to train people on how to do what you've done, then by all means train away, but if you only have a small back yard system, then you shouldn't be selling advice on things like commercial systems. although in theory they are the same things just on different scales, but one small system is a far cry away from a full scale commercial system. the general rule of thumb for me is like a pay grade,you can advise below what you're currently at, but shouldn't ethically go above what you've already accomplished.

 

the sale of unbacked, theorized production numbers as facts.

 

this is an easy one, if you haven't actually done it, you cant claim to be able to do it, so you shouldn't sell products like manuals and kits without proper record keeping and time stamped photo evidence. there's alot of people out there claiming that they can grow things in just 4 weeks from seed to harvest...  well.. unless you're talking microgreens, im not convinced...

 

and last but not least for now, and my personal favorite...

 

the exploitation of a 2nd or 3rd world countries labor force to seek proper profit margins.

 

now here me out on this one... while creating an aquaponics business in any 1st world country is looking harder and harder with the increase of a federal minimum wage, 2nd and 3rd world countries with no minimum wage base leaves the proprietor free to pay what ever they want...

 

but here's the twist.

 

lets say the average wage in the united states is around $8 per hour now, and the average  wage of some 2n or 3rd world country is $2 per day. with that being said, you start your operation in the 3rd world country where you could pay $2 a day per person for labor, but you actually pay them $4-$6 a day which is 2-3 times the national average.

 

you're still exploiting the 2nd and 3rd world standards of wage, but you're giving these people jobs that pay twice to three times as much as they would be making other wise, all the while securing you high profit margins.

 

on one hand it's socially unacceptable to exploit these people, but on the other hand it is socially acceptable to pay them a higher wage than average.

 

if anyone else has more questions of ethics having to do with aquaponics feel free to chime in, because i know i haven't hit them all.

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Kinda like the government, directed by the wishes of its members?

 

He was suggesting industry leards provid the arhcetype for the stanardising structure, but those people doing so couldnt regulate the area of standardization that they are currently engaged in... this would be double dipping the pot. Kind of like how ceo's control their own bonus checks.

It is nothing like the CEO's at all....sorry.  For starters, board members of the Aquaponics Association are not paid a single cent.  They hold honorary positions.  I would suggest that you look carefully at a wide variety of industry bodies and see just how they operate.  They are almost always not-for-profit but their board/s are made up of people from that industry who are elected (and removed) by the membership.  It is just absurd to suggest that some mystery persons who are not connected with the particular industry make up the board or officers.  It is just as absurd to assume that all the officers are somehow dishonest or just a little shady.
Are we to say that if a person becomes an officer they are then to immediately stop all their business activities.

I really doubt that "the money" is in the training. I think you will find that those of us who derive our living from Aquaponics are still trying to find just where the money is hiding.
Aquaponics has a big future, that is undeniable even by the most negative person, and there are a lot of people trying to participate.
The formation of the Aquaponics Association is very timely and will prove to be a very valuable organisation to this very new little industry. 

Because things are changing in every industry, they have updates to all training courses. The course would cover knowledge that is current and up to date. Then say, once a year, or when there is a major breakthrough, an update would be offered and made apparent, upon completion, on the certified persons credentials.

Damon Polta said:

Very well played rick.

They only thing is the advancement in this science is still growing rapidly. New techniques and different methods are being implemented across the board. How would you begin to standardise these issuse? Unless theres some sort of subcatagories of standardization.

murry.. i think you misunderstood me... the point you made in rebuttal to my last comment was the point i was making...

 

the people that would head the committee would of course have to have aquaponics knowledge... hence the reference to our industries leaders...

 

the problem with doing that would be we'd have people at the head of control being able to write our form of legislation to suit their needs.... since the people at the head of our society would almost definitely have some type of money ties in relation to the standardization of aquaponics, we'd have to have the committee arrange the rules, and have a large portion of the aquaponics community vote on the first set of standardizations. this would set the building blocks of our community as voted on by our community.

Standardization can be also homogenization. Lets be careful not to squash creativity in order to avoid a few bad apples. A slippery slope if you ask me. The Aquaponics Association should exist to promote Aquaponics and remove barriers in regards to regulation, not create regulation where there is no need for it.

Totally agree Damon. If Board members did write rules designed to suit themselves I am sure there would be an outcry and they (the Board) would get "the chop" quick time and rightly so!!!  It would be a very foolish lot who would attempt such things.

Totally agree with Jonathan's post as well.

Damon Polta said:

murry.. i think you misunderstood me... the point you made in rebuttal to my last comment was the point i was making...

 

the people that would head the committee would of course have to have aquaponics knowledge... hence the reference to our industries leaders...

 

the problem with doing that would be we'd have people at the head of control being able to write our form of legislation to suit their needs.... since the people at the head of our society would almost definitely have some type of money ties in relation to the standardization of aquaponics, we'd have to have the committee arrange the rules, and have a large portion of the aquaponics community vote on the first set of standardizations. this would set the building blocks of our community as voted on by our community.

Murray, Not sure where you come up with these assumptions. You must admit to the obvious advantages to the businesses of officers, board members. Control of which products or services are acceptable, could be a conflict of interest. We are just trying to see that this association proceeds in a fair manner. Directed by truth, not the dollar and control. The Association could very well be a helpful and positive organization.

Murray Hallam said:

   It is just absurd to suggest that some mystery persons who are not connected with the particular industry make up the board or officers.  It is just as absurd to assume that all the officers are somehow dishonest or just a little shady.
Are we to say that if a person becomes an officer they are then to immediately stop all their business activities.

I really doubt that "the money" is in the training. I think you will find that those of us who derive our living from Aquaponics are still trying to find just where the money is hiding.
Aquaponics has a big future, that is undeniable even by the most negative person, and there are a lot of people trying to participate.
The formation of the Aquaponics Association is very timely and will prove to be a very valuable organisation to this very new little industry. 

Steve, I know there are many people out there who will call "conflict of interest" on almost any possible functioning of an Aquaponics Association.  As Murray said, if you can't elect people who are heavily involved in aquaponics, WHO the heck are you going to elect to run it????  Do you really think there is such an altruistic person out there that would take on all the extra unpaid work of being an officer in the organization if they didn't see any possible benefit?

 

Now I understand that we wouldn't want some particular person to get elected and then to write the rules saying that Their Training Program is the Only acceptable program.  But there will always be more than one person involved in such decision making.  And the members should pay attention to what's being done and get involved and vote and make their voices herd.  Don't whine about what the Association does if you are not going to get involved.  (I'm a member of a local trade union and it always gets me that we have members who whine that the union isn't doing what they want but they never show up to the meetings.)

 

For now (next six months to a year) I expect we will just have to be happy with the affiliate membership in the organization as the approval or dis-approval and about all that entails is a code of ethics that the Affiliate member agrees to abide by in order to keep their membership.  http://aquaponicsassociation.org/members-area/affiliate-members/cod...

 

And I think to start the Associations first priorities are in promotion of Aquaponics and not necessarily trying to regulate it in the next few months.  It takes much time to design proper tests anyway and they would have to get through being voted on I'm sure.  I mean in order for the Association to be able to give their approval to certain training programs, they would need to know what is being taught and how (Does that mean a committee would need to pay to attend the classes?)

Even then, About all the association would be able to do is withhold their approval from some Training course and seeing as currently there isn't even such a thing, is it really going to make much difference for the first few years? 

Keep in mind most people getting bilked by the AquaShisters out there don't know anything about The Aquaponics Association or this web site or the BYAP web site or Murray's site or some of the other Forum sites.  So how would the Aquaponics Association protect those people from getting bilked when they stumble upon the e-book site that promises to grow them ten times as many veggies in a fraction of the space in half the time.?


steve said:

Murray, Not sure where you come up with these assumptions. You must admit to the obvious advantages to the businesses of officers, board members. Control of which products or services are acceptable, could be a conflict of interest. We are just trying to see that this association proceeds in a fair manner. Directed by truth, not the dollar and control. The Association could very well be a helpful and positive organization.

Steve, I agree with you.  In my personal opinion (and as a member of the Association Board) I believe that the certification standards should be set by sub-committees and that anyone with a business interest in a particular set of certification standards should excuse themselves from the sub-committee proceedings.  I now have an interest in training programs, so IMHO I should not be a part of the discussions by the sub-committee on training standards other than  perhaps to answer questions and offer opinions about how the standards would impact us.  There needs to be no question about motivation...although I can assure you that after having worked with this group for a couple months now that the motivation is only for the betterment of aquaponics as a whole and there is definitely an acute awareness of keeping personal business interests out of the Board discussions. 

In the Military I was a dog handler for many years.  Then, as I reached a higher rank, I was given the job of being the K-9 Trainer and eventually the Kennel Master.  I was very good at what I did and had a reputation of excellence in my field. Would I have been a good K-9 Trainer or Kennel Master without years of experience? Not very likely and I would have made untold number of mistakes.

 

However, not everyone in the K-9 field (despite their years of experience) were able to translate that experience into being a good or even adequate Trainer. Teaching others in an effective manner is not something that is developed only with experience.  You must have a deep passion for your job and, at the end of the day, you must ENJOY teaching others.

 

Commercial Aquaponic Farmers with years of experience certainly have the qualifications to teach others but that won't necessarily translate to being an effective teacher.  If you are a Commercial Aquaponics Farmer and still have the time, energy, passion and desire to teach others then I say go for it!  There is a large void in the aquaponic community for well thought out commercial training classes.

 

If you are a Commercial Aquaponic Farmer that is only looking at adding training others to supplement your income then please do everyone a favor and don't.  Putting together the curriculum and effectively teaching it is a skill set that few possess.

 

If you do develop a training program, do remember you are doing much more than just teaching.  You are directly influencing that person and that includes their dreams and aspirations in regards to aquaponics. You have a responsibility to provide them with PROVEN methods of being successful and without personal experience, how would you accomplish that?

 

Personally I wouldn't take someone's money for a commercial course if they have no aquaponics experience.  I would recommend they attend a beginners course, run a system for a year or so to gain experience & knowledge. Only then would I recommend the commercial course.  It is a large investment to get started and in most cases is someone else's money.

 

LOL...you are right, Rob...and I expect I know who the "cheesy e letter guy" is that you are referring to, and, yes, other than him we have enjoyed tremendous support from the aquaponics community.  Not really feeling like this is a witch hunt though. ...I think it is reasonable to ask these kinds of questions, but, yes, perhaps this subject has been beaten enough and this thread can be moved to another subject around ethics and profitability.  How about the notion of the Frozen Pizza Lobby and the Potato lobby convincing Congress to declare pizza sauce and french fries vegetables for the national school lunch program?  Now there is a REAL issue with ethics and profitability!

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