News Briefs

In Brief:

• Bush makes good on veto threat, but Congress votes to override and enact Farm Bill.

• New X-ray technology could speed up grading process.

• Preventative planting difficult to justify if others in the area were able to plant.

• New plant in Opp, Ala. making fuel-grade biodiesel from peanuts.


Farm Bill Approved In Unusual Twist
In June, the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 passed Congress after an unusual legislative process that eventually caused the process to be repeated. The Senate passed the bill 77-15, two weeks after the discovery that 34 pages of legislation were not included in a copy Congress sent to the White House. President Bush vetoed that version, and the House and Senate then enacted it with an overriding vote.

The bill became law except for the international trade section. Parliamentarians and key legislative leaders were advised to repeat the process, including all sections to prevent major challenges. The House and Senate passed the entire Farm Bill again, sent it to the president for a second veto, followed by a second overriding vote.

President Bush continued his claim that the bill was too expensive – $290 billion over 10 years – and too generous with subsidies for farmers whom are enjoying record-high prices and incomes. Bush opposed the Farm Bill from the start and continued to threaten a veto during the discussions.

U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss said nothing could be further from the truth than criticism that the bill provides large subsidies to rich farmers. Chambliss said only 11 percent of the funding is going toward direct help for producers.

The federal Food Stamp program, which accounts for 70 percent of the funding, received an overhaul in the bill in an effort to eliminate fraud and waste. The bill also expands a program to encourage school systems to purchase locally grown produce for their free school lunch programs.

Georgia Tour Planned
The Georgia Peanut Farm Tour, organized by the University of Georgia, USDA-ARS National Peanut Lab and the Georgia Peanut Commission, is being planned for Sept. 17-18, 2008.

New Grading System In Testing
Hank Sheppard and Marshall Lamb of the USDA-ARS National Peanut Research Laboratory, Dawson, Ga., continue to compare the current system of grading farmer stock peanuts to a potential alternative system using X-ray technology.

According to Lamb, the current grading system was developed in the 1940s, when the peanut season was three to four months long. Now the bulk of the season is as short as four weeks. The current grading equipment cannot keep up with this rush of samples and, in years where there is a drought, the process is slowed down further because of the increased amount of hand shelling needed to complete the sample.

In the 2007 peanut season, a large BestRay X-ray machine was tested to determine if it could speed up the grading process with accuracy. The testing showed that the X-ray machine could accurately determine the amount of foreign material, loose-shelled kernels, hulls, sound mature kernels and sound splits. The X-ray machine was much faster in determining these grades than the current method.

BestRay has used the data obtained last year to develop a new prototype, tabletop X-ray peanut grading machine. This new machine will be tested during the 2008 peanut season.

Preventative Planting Hard To Prove
The Federal Crop Insurance’s final planting date has passed for peanuts grown in all states. This is the date by which producers must plant and not have their production guarantee reduced.

The late-planting period for peanuts ends 15 days after the final planting date. If peanuts are planted after the final planting date, but prior to the end of the late-planting period, the production guarantee will be reduced by one percent for each day planted after the final planting date. Acreage planted after the end of the late-planting period may be insurable if the producer was prevented from planting by the final planting date (or within the late-planting period) by an insurable cause of loss. If eligible, coverage is established by multiplying the production guarantee for timely planting of peanuts by 50 percent.

Officials report that preventative planting or never planting is often difficult to justify, especially if other growers in the area planted peanuts. If a producer makes a claim for preventative planting, the grower needs to secure proof of weather during the planting period and verification from sources such as the County Agent.

Plant Making Biodiesel From Peanuts
A Florida-based company recently announced that a new $40 million biofuel refinery in Opp, Ala., has begun production. Perihelion Global said in a statement that the product coming from the Alabama plant has met U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requirements and has been certified as fuel-grade biodiesel.

UGA, Syngenta Honor Top-Yielding Growers
The University of Georgia and Syngenta Crop Protection recently recognized the achievement of 12 esteemed Georgia peanut producers at the historic Mills House in Charleston, S.C., for their induction into the Georgia Peanut Achievement Club.

The 2007 state winners in each category were: Dowdy and Gaines of Baker County in Category I (75 - 349.9 acres), averaging 5,581 pounds per acre on 303 acres; Chase Farms of Macon County in Category II (350 - 699.9 acres), averaging 5,577 pounds per acre on 354 acres; Jimmy Webb of Calhoun County in Category III (700+ acres), averaging 4,982 pounds per acre on 872 acres.

Dowdy and Gaines were the overall state winners for the 2007 season.

Other state winners in Category I were: Bill Jordan, Calhoun County; David Selph, Wilcox County; Art Dorminy IV, Irwin County.

Other state winners in Category II were: Eddie Miller, Seminole County; Hulin Reeves Jr., Ben Hill County; Philip Grimes, Tift County.

Other state winners in Category III were: Heard Farms, Baker County; Ken Hall, Turner County; Mims Farms, Seminole County.

“Syngenta congratulates the 2007 winners on their induction into the Georgia Peanut Achievement Club and is proud to be a part of this program again this year,” said Lyle Stewart, district manager for Syngenta Crop Protection. “The challenges these growers faced in 2007 were abundant. However, these esteemed growers were able to meet these challenges head on and produce excellent yields.”

Stewart noted that eight of the 12 winners used Abound as part of their fungicide program in 2007.

“It is astounding to see the peanut yields our producers were able to achieve in 2007,” said Dr. John Beasley, UGA Extension peanut agronomist. “It was one of the most demanding and stressful production years we’ve had in quite some time. It was extremely dry in the spring, very hot in August and only sporadic rain fell during the season.”