News Briefs

 
 
In Brief:
 

• Bill gives small base owners chance to consolidate.

• NFSA working on disaster program rules and software.

• Definition un-COOL for peanuts.

• Exports increase 34 percent for crop year 2007; increase to Japan 221 percent.

• Groups from Canada, Mexico and Japan tour peanut areas.

   

Saving The 10-Acre Base
The Senate and House have passed legislation that would suspend for a year a provision included in the 2008 Farm Bill to cut payments off to all farms with 10 or less base acres without allowing the consolidation of small farms as Congress intended.

Senators Chambliss, Harkin and Grassley expressed their belief that the Farm Bill explicitly lays out congressional intent, but said that they were pushing for this short-term relief so small farmers are not caught in the cross-fire.

USDA’s interpretation would eliminate producers from receiving direct or counter-cyclical payments if base acres on the farm are 10 or less. The manager’s report of the Farm Bill specifically included language to ensure that small farm acreages could be aggregated to allow for farm program payments if the sum of the base acres is over 10.

The final bill in the Senate replaces a previous bill that allowed a two-year fix, the same as the House. However, this bill puts in place a one-year instead of two-year fix.

Also in the legislation were technical corrections to the Permanent Disaster Assistance Program and an extension for the 2008 crop year sign up for direct and counter-cyclical payments until the latter: Nov. 14, 2008, or 45 days after enactment. The bill ensures that no penalty to benefits are assessed by USDA against producers whom fall into the 10-acre prohibition for failure to submit reports or to timely comply with other program requirements if using the extended sign up period.

 
Final Counter-Cyclical Payment
The final 2007 counter-cyclical payment to eligible producers with base was $49 per ton. A partial payment of $7.60 per ton was made in February 2008. Base owners recently received an additional $41.40 per ton. The total CCC allocation will be $82 million.

 
Permanent Disaster SURE Program

The Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program (SURE) will be available to eligible producers on farms in disaster counties, as designated by the Secretary of Agriculture, including contiguous counties, that have incurred crop losses and/or quality losses during the crop year. Congress determined that payments would not occur until calculations are made at the end of the marketing year.

The program is available to any farm where, during the calendar year, the total loss of production, because of weather, is greater than 50 percent of the normal production of the farm.

Because Congress did not provide a rule-making exception, the Farm Service Agency (FSA) must first publish a proposed rule, seek public comment, and follow with a final rule. FSA is working to develop detailed regulations and software for this program. Sign up is not expected until this winter.

To be eligible for SURE for the 2009 season, producers must meet the risk management purchase requirement by purchasing at least the CAT level of crop insurance for all insurable crops and/or NAP coverage for non-insurable crops.

 
Growers Not Pleased With COOL Rules
Grower associations joined together in an effort to have the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service change its proposed final rule involving peanuts and the COOL law.

Under the interim final rule, essentially all peanuts and peanut products would be exempt from COOL labeling requirements because they would be defined as processed food items. According to USDA, any peanut food item which has been either cooked or roasted is exempt. Since the majority of peanuts sold, including roasted inshells and peanut butter, have been either cooked or roasted, the provision exempts all but raw peanuts. The rule has essentially made labeling a non-issue for peanuts.

 
Exports Surge In 2007-2008
In news from the American Peanut Council and according to export statistics from USDA, U.S. exports increased 23.2 percent for the 2007-08 (Aug.-Sept.) crop year from 205,189 MT to 255,350 MT. Raw shelled peanut exports were up 22.3 percent, and inshells were up a whopping 188 percent. Germany became the United States’ largest inshell customer, followed closely by Canada and Japan.

In the shelled kernel market, Canada remained the U.S.’s biggest customer with an increase of 43 percent, from 65,677 MT to 93,979. Total exports of peanuts to Canada topped 100,000 MT for the first time. Canada is also the largest export market for peanut butter at 8,476 MT and processed peanuts at 3,199 MT in crop year 2007.

The APC’s efforts to bring Japanese customers and U.S. exporters together appears to be paying off. Total peanut exports in crop year 2006 were 4,272 MT, but in 2007 exports increased by 221 percent to 13,654 MT. Exports of peanut butter increased 57 percent over the same period.

The value of U.S. peanut exports for crop year 2007 totaled $264,567,414, an increase of 34 percent.

 
Farm Visits A Hit With Tour Attendees
For many first-time attendees, the 22nd Annual Georgia Peanut Tour provided an opportunity to walk through a peanut field and see peanuts plowed up with a digger.

As usual, the tour highlighted a cross section of the peanut industry with visits to fields and stops at research centers and shelling plants. The tour was held Sept. 16-18, 2008, in the South Central area of Georgia with stops in Crisp, Dodge, Pulaski, Dooly, Tift, Sumter, Macon, Lee, Terrell and Dougherty Counties.

The tour began with an early bird Hot Topics Seminar on Tues., Sept. 16 in Cordele, Ga. A highlight of the seminar featured Dr. Patricia Wolff, clinical professor of pediatrics at the Washington University School of Medicine and head of Med & Food for Kids (MFK). She discussed saving malnourished children in Haiti with the life saving peanut butter mixture called Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food. The RUTF product is produced in Haiti under the name, Medika Mamba, which is Haitian Creole for “Peanut Butter Medicine.”

Since 2003, MFK has offered the hope of recovery, which often exceeds 85 percent, to thousands of malnourished children in Haiti.

On Wednesday morning, the tour began with farm visits at Chris Martin’s farm in Dodge County and Dawson Brothers Farm in Pulaski County. Additional tour stops included Advanced Trailers, Tifton Quality Peanuts and a visit to the National Peanut Museum and the Agrirama.

On Thursday, the group toured Jimmy Carter’s boyhood home and were treated to a special visit from the 39th President, Jimmy Carter. Additional tour stops included the University of Georgia’s Southwest Georgia Research and Education Center, Chase Farms, McCleskey Mills and the National Peanut Research Lab.

The Georgia Peanut Tour is coordinated by the Georgia Peanut Commission, the University of Georgia Tifton and Griffin Campus, Southwest Georgia Research and Education Center in Plains, Attapulgus Research and Education Center and the USDA-ARS National Peanut Research Laboratory.

A new feature for this year was a blog that highlights all tour stops. To view the blog, go to www.gapeanuts.com.

 
Industry Touts USA Peanuts To Several Trade Groups
In September, journalists and customers from Canada toured shelling plants, fields and a manufacturing facility in and around Albany. The food editor from Canadian Living, as well as a test kitchen/recipe developer for Chatelaine magazine (two of the leading Canadian lifestyle magazines) was part of the group, as well as buyers and quality assurance personnel from peanut manufacturers. The group ended their tour with a visit to the Plains, Ga., Peanut Festival. Organizers of the tour included the American Peanut Council, Peanut Advisory Board, American Peanut Shellers Association and the Alabama Peanut Producers Association.

In October, a group of Japanese customers and trading company representatives visited shelling plants, fields and buying points in both Texas and Oklahoma. The goal of this visit was to showcase the superior production and post-harvest practices of American growers.

Also in October, a contingent of buyers from Mexico traveled to Texas to network with U.S. exporters. They also visited fields and a shelling plant. Exports to Mexico have increased significantly in the past few years, but there is room for higher sales volumes.

The Texas Peanut Producers Board co-hosted the Japanese and Mexican tours and provided the APC with support in organizing the events. The Southwestern Peanut Shellers and Western Peanut Growers Association also contributed to the success of these tours.

PG