News Briefs

In Brief:

• Farm Bill finished; Bush renews veto threat.

• Industry again challenged with possible peanut ban on planes.

• Judges sympathetic to growers, but rule against them in insurance law suit.

• Dr. Tom Isleib and doctoral student, Amanda Kay, to be honored at Peanut Congress.

• UGA receives grant for development of allergen-free peanut.

• Golden Peanut introduces new organic line of peanut flour and roasted, aromatic oil.

• NPB holding peanut grower photo contest.

• Appeals court orders USDA to release farm data under Freedom of Information Act.


Farm Bill Agreement Announced
U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), ranking republican of the Senate Agriculture Committee, announced that negotiators had reached an agreement on the Farm Bill conference report. Sen. Chambliss championed several provisions in the bill, including a measure to exempt IRS-approved education and retirement accounts from counting against the asset limit for food stamps.

“This is a tremendous victory for all Georgians, from the producers who grow the food we eat, to those seeking assistance to feed their families,” Chambliss said. “Our goal was to take the most successful components of the 2002 Farm Bill and incorporate input from producers across the country to improve current law, and we did just that. This Farm Bill strengthens our nation’s food security, protects the livelihood of our producers and provides investments in nutrition, conservation and energy.”

In addition to other reforms, Chambliss highlighted the following:
• Commodities: eliminates the “three entity rule” and implements reformed payment caps for commodity program benefits; provides producers of eligible commodities an option to participate in a revenue-based counter-cyclical program; includes newly created disaster assistance program; maintains non-trade distorting direct payments; rebalances rates for the counter-cyclical program and non-recourse marketing loan program; reforms the cotton marketing loan program and provides an assistance program for the textile industry.

• Peanuts: maintains separate subtitle; preserves the target price, direct payment rate and marketing loan rate established in the 2002 Farm Bill; provides a mechanism to ensure handling and associated costs are not deducted from a producer’s loan rate; maintains separate payment limits for peanuts; and includes CSP incentives for producers moving towards optimal crop rotation.

Secretary Says Bush Will Veto Farm Bill
Just after the announcement that a Farm Bill agreement had been reached, Secretary of Agriculture, Ed Shafer, was quick to say that President Bush would veto the bill.

“In January 2007, the President put forward a Farm Bill proposal that represents fiscal responsibility, would improve the safety-net for farmers and move current programs toward market- oriented policies. Our proposals were warranted and timely considering that 2008 net farm income is forecast to be $92 billion – 51 percent above its 10-year average.

“Today, the United States House and Senate announced the completion of a Farm Bill that unfortunately fails to include much needed reform and increases spending by nearly $20 billion. At a time of record farm income, Congress decided to further increase farm subsidy rates, qualify more people for taxpayer support and move programs toward more government control. We should not remove farm commodities from market forces and make them dependent on government support programs.

“In addition, Congress decided to include a new permanent disaster program. This program represents a return to outdated farm policy and questions the government’s investment in crop insurance, which was designed to protect farmers against low commodity prices and crop failures. This action will discredit farm programs and jeopardize public support for future farm bills.

“For a year and a half, the Administration has been consistently clear that Congress needs to move forward with a good Farm Bill that the President can sign. They have failed to do so. This legislation lacks meaningful farm program reform and expands the size and scope of government.

“I have visited face to face with our President and he was direct and plain. The President will veto this bill.”

Attempt To Ban Peanuts On Planes, Again
Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), was recently considering introducing an amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill that would ban peanuts on airplanes.

Although several airlines have voluntarily replaced peanuts with pretzels or other snack mixes, supporters say a total ban is the safest course because it would prevent allergic toddlers from picking up a stray peanut, unbeknownst to their parents.

News of this latest attempt to ban peanuts spread quickly through the industry, and groups, including the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation, began contacting their legislators immediately.

Growers Lose Insurance Law Suit
A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled against 3,870 peanut farmers from Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Georgia, Alabama and Florida. The farmers sued USDA for changing the indemnified rate paid to farmers who had insurance claims as the quota system was eliminated by Congress.

Farmers had planted peanuts under the quota system with an indemnified rate of 31 cents per pound, but when the 2002 Farm Bill was implemented, USDA allowed the farmers to collect only 17.75 cents per pound. Farmers argued that many received bank loans based on the 31 cents per pound rate.

Judge Robert King wrote in the Court’s unanimous opinion that “although we have great sympathy for the hard-working peanut farmers of this country, our obligation is to rule on the basis of the factual underpinnings and the applicable legal principles.”

Dan Boyce, lawyer for the farmers said, “Farmers are shocked they are being treated this way by the government.” He said they are considering an appeal either in the Full Appeals Court or the U.S. Supreme Court.

USDA Releases FSA Data
The U. S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has ordered the Farm Service Agency (FSA) to release detailed databases about farming operations throughout the United States.

The release is in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by a commercial vendor and includes FSA data for all operations owned and operated by individual agricultural producers and closely held family-owned business entities. These files can be used to reveal details of farming operations at a specific geographical location.

Information to be released includes all information in a producer’s farm compliance record, such as: planting date, reported acreage, official acreage measurements, insurance coverage, type of crop, whether or not the crop is irrigated, intended use of the crop, crop status, double-crop program acreage, experimental, repeat crop acreage, prevented planting or failed crop.

Foundation Announces Award Recipients
The Peanut Foundation recently announced the winners of two of their most prestigious awards.

Dr. Tom Isleib, North Carolina State University peanut breeder, will be awarded the Peanut Research and Education Award at the USA Peanut Congress in Amelia Island in June for his contributions to peanut breeding.

Amanda Kay, working on her doctoral degree and doing research on peanuts, will be awarded the second annual James E. Mobley Education Grant for her work on Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus. Kay attends North Carolina State University. She will give a presentation on her research at the 2009 Peanut Foundation Research Review in March.

NPB Holding Photo Contest
The National Peanut Board is seeking peanut producers to participate in the “Your Farm Oughta Be in Pictures” photo contest. Producers may submit a photo of the family peanut farm for a chance to win the grand prize – a celebrity-style photo shoot. The peanut farm will be featured in the National Peanut Board’s next advertisement.

Three first place winners will receive a Bayer CropScience product pack including Provost fungicide, worth $1,000 and a family pack of SeaWorld tickets. Five second place winners will receive a National Peanut Board “Peanutty” Fun Pack, which includes NPB- and Buddy McNutty-themed merchandise.

Entries may be color prints or digital images. Black and white images are not eligible. All entries must be of a peanut farm. Other crops are not eligible for this contest. Entries must be submitted by the original photographer.

Digital photos may be submitted using the online entry form at or prints may be mailed along with completed entry forms. Print submissions must be 4 x 6 inches or 5 x 7 inches and must be in color. Attach a label to the back of each print with your name and address. The deadline to enter is June 15, 2008.

For more information, visit the NPB photo contest Web site.

Golden Peanut Introduces Organic Flour And Roasted, Aromatic Oil To Meet Customer Needs
Golden Peanut Co., a major supplier of peanuts and peanut products to the food industry, recently announced the launch of two organic peanut flours and organic roasted, aromatic peanut oil.

The two organic peanut flours are 28 percent fat, a medium roast, and 12 percent fat, for a dark roast. Both flours can be used in confections, nutritional bars, seasoning blends, reduced-fat peanut butters, sauces and any other food product to have a roasted peanut flavor, texture and aroma, too. Peanut flour is also an excellent source of protein that ranges between 40 and 50 percent, depending on the fat level.

Golden Peanuts’ organic roasted, aromatic peanut oil can be used as a base for peanut flavor systems, a salad or cooking oil, and can be added directly to any food product to boost the peanut flavor of that food.
According to Bruce Kotz, vice president of specialty products with Golden Peanut, meeting their customers needs is the reason for the new products.

“We moved forward on organic peanut flour and organic roasted, aromatic peanut oil at this time because we continue to see growth in the organic area,” Kotz says. “In addition, we had two of our major customers come to us at the same time asking for organic versions of products we are currently selling to them.”

Both product lines are Organic Crop Improvement Association International (OCIA) certified and Kosher OU.

Golden Peanut Co. LLC, is a leading handler, processor and exporter of raw, processed peanuts and peanut-derived ingredients, including peanut flours, worldwide and is owned by Archer Daniels Midland Co, Decatur, Ill., and Alimenta USA.

Working On An Allergy-Free Peanut
Researchers at the University of Georgia have recently been awarded a $100,000 grant from the Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture to further research efforts towards developing an allergen-free peanut.

Peanuts contain multiple allergens: Ara h 6 and Ara h 2. These are proteins that act as allergens to susceptible people. One of the challenges researchers face in reducing the amount of these proteins in the peanut is in leaving the plant fertile.

Peggy Ozias, UGA plant geneticist and horticulture professor, said that so far she and her team of researchers have succeeded in reducing the amount of both the Ara h 6 and Ara h 2 allergens in peanuts they have modified.

Asked if these peanuts taste like normal, unmodified peanuts, Ozias said, “At this point, we are not allowed to sample them.”

Steven Knapp is a professor of Crop Science at UGA’s CAES whose research focuses on specific genetic breeding. He has been working on allergen databases in conjunction with Ozias’ research. “Yes, progress has been made,” he said in a telephone interview. Knapp said that he and his colleagues have completed a database of peanut allergens that is sufficient for Ozias’ work. They are now working on expanding that database.