News Briefs

In Brief:

• FSA extends farm program deadline to allow producers more time to learn about ACRE.

• GPC awards over $950,000 to University of Georgia for research.

• Peanut alliance opens dialogue with President Obama.

• Carver Award honors college students for peanut research efforts.

• VPGA donates thousands to Virginia/D.C. food banks.

• NCPGA to promote in-shells in drug stores.

• Georgia Peanut Farmer Appreciation Day declared at NASCAR race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

• Blakely, Ga., holds Peanut Proud Expo, draws Sen. Chambliss and thousands of attendees.

• Industry donates product to Martha’s Table charity.


Farm Program Deadline Extended
USDA’s Farm Service Agency has announced that the deadline for both the direct and counter-cyclical program (DCP) and the forthcoming Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) Program has been extended from June 1, to Aug. 14, 2009.

This action extends the sign-up deadline by 10 weeks to give producers ample time to decide whether to participate in ACRE or remain in DCP. Officials said that the DCP and ACRE programs play a critical role in the farm safety net, and farmers need to understand the options.

The new ACRE program, authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill, will provide eligible producers a state-level revenue guarantee, based on the five-year state Olympic average yield and the two-year national average price. ACRE payments are made when both state and farm-level triggers are met.

By participating in ACRE, producers elect to forgo counter-cyclical payments, receive a 20 percent reduction in direct payments and a 30 percent reduction in loan rates. The decision to select ACRE binds the farm to the program through the 2012 crop year, the last crop year covered by the 2008 act.

GPC Gives $1 Million To Research
The Georgia Peanut Commission recently awarded $1 million to research facilities for 2009. This effort funds more than 50 research projects, 45 state and seven federal. The projects focus on economics, conservation, irrigation and water management, peanut breeding, pest management and allergen-free peanuts.

At the board meeting, a check for $101,000 was presented to Tim Strickland, location coordinator for USDA’s Agricultural Research Service in Tifton, and a check for $959,000 was presented to Scott Angle, dean of the University of Georgia’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Producers Ask Obama For Help
With the difficult economy and the recent salmonella crisis causing confusion among consumers, members of the United Peanut Alliance (UPA) sent a letter to President Obama asking for help in clearing up misconceptions about peanut butter. In the letter, growers gave their support for legislation designed to shore up the food safety program.

“The recent salmonella crisis and recall was caused by the reprehensible actions of one manufacturer,” said Jimbo Grissom, chairman of the Western Peanut Growers Association, which is a member of the UPA whom represents peanut producers from New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia. “We applaud and encourage the efforts being made to improve the safety of all foods that has been precipitated by this latest crisis.”

The group asked the president for a meeting to share an update on the status of the crisis and to demonstrate farmers’ commitment to the safety of all peanuts and peanut products.

An “Open Letter from America’s Peanut Farmers To Consumers” ran in USA Today on Feb. 25, 2009. Peanut producers across the country are working to reach consumers and to rebuild the trust developed in this iconic American food.

NPB Announces Carver Award Program
The National Peanut Board (NPB) is taking applications for the eighth annual Dr. George Washington Carver Award. The award is open to undergraduate and graduate students, and the winner receives a $1,000 prize, with a matching amount awarded to the winner’s college for peanut research.

Representing American peanut producers, NPB rewards a future peanut researcher’s hard work and community spirit with this award commemorating America’s foremost peanut researcher. The standards for judging exemplify the spirit of Dr. Carver – a positive, measurable impact on peanut cultivation or peanut product development and strength of character as reflected by community involvement or service.

Application forms are available online at Completed entries should be mailed to the National Peanut Board Dr. Carver Award, 2839 Paces Ferry Road, Suite 210, Atlanta, GA 30339. The deadline for applications is May 22, 2009.

This year’s winner will be presented with a check for $1,000 and plaque at the 2009 American Peanut Research and Education Society’s Annual Conference in Raleigh, N.C., July 14-17.

Virginia Gives To Food Banks
The Virginia Peanut Growers Association (VPGA) presented the Federation of Virginia Food Banks with $8,000 recently to purchase peanut butter for seven food banks throughout the Virginia/District of Columbia area. The funds were collected among members of the Virginia peanut industry.

The VPGA kicked off the Food Bank Peanut Butter Drive at their annual meeting in February with Lewis Everett, a producer and president of VPGA, and Dell Cotton, VPGA’s executive secretary, making an appeal for peanut butter donations to address the expressed need from food banks.

Growers responded immediately with a collection of nearly $1,000. More donations followed in the ensuing days, and the initial contributions were supplemented with donations from others, including shellers, processors, manufacturers, research and farm-related organizations and other individuals.

“Not only is this the best of causes at a critical time, but growers are leading by example in showing that it remains safe to eat peanut butter, making it a perfect item to be donated to food banks due to many reasons including the nutritional benefits,” Cotton said.

This proactive step from growers attracted state-wide attention, whereupon Virginia’s Commissioner of Agriculture Todd Haymore asked the general public and state agencies to make donations of jars of peanut butter specifically for food banks during March – National Peanut Month.

“We are extremely grateful for the generosity of the members of the Virginia Peanut Growers Association and the state’s peanut industry,” said Leslie Van Horn, executive director of the federation. “Our food banks depend on jars of peanut butter to be accessible to the individuals we serve throughout the state, and these funds will enable us to begin restocking our shelves.”

Drug Store Promotion For In-Shells
The North Carolina Peanut Growers Association received a grant of $50,000 to promote peanuts in drug stores. This store format is increasing and selling products that have traditionally been sold in supermarkets. Supermarkets/grocery stores sell about 85 percent of in-shells, but the drug store market is open to expansion.

The partnership is with Hampton Farms and Kerr Drug, now with 100 stores. Kerr provided end-of-the-isle shelves, and NCPGA provided the signage, plus the grant made possible billboard advertising.

Added to that will be a $100,000 grant from the Tobacco Trust Fund for an in-shell promotion in large national drug chains including Walgreens, CVS and Rite Aid.

Race Fans Show Appreciation
Atlanta Motor Speedway declared March 8, 2009, as “Georgia Peanut Farmer Appreciation Day” at the Kobalt Tools 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup race in recognition of Georgia’s official state crop.

In light of the recent difficulties facing the industry and to show support for Georgia’s producers, Atlanta Motor Speedway partnered with the Georgia Peanut Commission to promote Georgia peanuts during the race.

The GPC had a trackside billboard, plus set up a booth with sampling opportunities and participated in other pre-race festivities.

Blakely, Ga., Holds Peanut Proud Expo
One town with every reason to be tired of the negative news is Blakely, Ga., a hard-working community that has, unfortunately, been in the media spotlight for months now. One day, they decided they had had enough.

“We’ve heard enough negative, and we’re uniting with our neighbors, peanut friends, consumers and anyone that wants to come to tell the world that peanuts are safe, nutritious and trustworthy,” said Sally Wells of Birdsong Peanuts, co-organizer of the Peanut Proud Expo.

Georgia Senator Saxby Chambliss told the crowd of more than 2,000, “Without question, the peanut industry is the heart and soul of your community and, despite the recent challenges it’s faced this year, you should know I stand with you and will continue to work to make certain the industry remains vibrant and thriving.”

Exhibitors at the event included the National Peanut Board Touring Truck, hot, grilled PB&J sandwiches from the peanut buying points and The Peanut Institute, fried peanuts from the Georgia Peanut Commission, the Peanut Circus featuring Dune Buggy, The Clown, a peanut recipe contest, Little Goober contest, free peanut products from numerous manufacturers, exhibits from the National Peanut Research Lab and the University of Georgia, plus others.

More than 2,000 “Peanut Proud” t-shirts were sold.

Farmers Donate To Martha’s Table
Peanut farmers from Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Texas and Oklahoma donated more than 8,000 jars of peanut butter to Martha’s Table in Washington, D.C. Martha’s Table’s mission is to help at-risk children, youth, families and individuals in the Washington, D.C. community improve their lives by providing educational programs, food, clothing and enrichment opportunities.

“They served 513,503 sandwiches in 2008, and it is our privilege to donate peanut butter to help them achieve their mission in 2009,” said Armond Morris, chairman of the Georgia Peanut Commission.

“We are very grateful for such a large donation of nutritious peanut butter. Families that we serve have been hit hard during this economic crisis and this donation of food will be a great help to them,” said Lindsey Buss, president and CEO of Martha’s Table. “We will be able to distribute the peanut butter to the community through meals we serve, from our food pantry and through partner organizations.

“Peanut butter is a cost-effective way for individuals to receive nutrients, such as protein, that they need in their diets to stay healthy.”

Martha’s Table carefully tracked the recall of peanut-based products and committed to only serving peanut butter made by manufacturers not involved in the recall. All of the peanut butter donated to the organization was name-brand product not involved in the recall.

In addition to the donation of peanut butter from producers, the American Peanut Shellers Association, Southern Ag Carriers, Tara Foods and Home Depot also participated in the donation to Martha’s Table.