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In Brief:
 

•USDA-ERS report on 2009 recall says no lasting effects on industry.

•Obama seeks to cut direct payments, eliminate handling and storage.

•NPB plans luncheon event in Washington, D.C. to commemorate 10-year anniversary.

•Group studying feasibility of shelling plant in South Carolina says it is possible.

•South Carolina donates 7,000 jars of peanut butter to food bank.

•Peanut Butter For Haiti to continue through end of March.

•APC, grower representatives visit West Africa as part of Peanut Butter for the Hungry initiative.

   

USDA Studies Impact Of Recall
In their report, “Peanut Outlook: Impacts of the 2008-09 Foodborne Illness Outbreak Linked to Salmonella in Peanuts,” the USDA Economic Research Service found that the recall from products traced to Peanut Corp. of America (PCA) will not have a lasting impact on peanut demand and production.

Although PCA processed less than two percent of the U.S. peanut supply, its peanuts and peanut products were included as ingredients in more than 3,900 products. Cakes, candies, cookies, peanut crackers, ice cream, snack mixes and pet food, produced by more than 200 different companies contained peanuts, peanut paste or peanut butter produced by PCA, had to be recalled.

Well-known brands of peanut butter were unaffected by the salmonella contamination, but the recall severely damaged the industry. As a result, the immediate costs from the 2008-2009 recall were considerable for all producers and manufacturers, regardless of the recalled product. Although Skippy and Peter Pan peanut products were unaffected by the outbreak, Skippy peanut butter sales fell 54 percent and Peter Pan sales fell 45 percent in the months after the recall.
Peanut butter sales plummeted 24 percent across the board, and experts estimated that total industry losses would amount to about $1 billion.

Despite massive short-term losses, the ERS report found that retail sales returned to previous-year levels just four months later. Sales took the biggest hit in January and February, but largely recovered by April 2009.

Despite the decline, the volume of peanuts processed during the 2008-09 marketing year increased 1.5 percent from the previous year. Processing of peanut butter increased nine percent from the previous year, from 1.35 billion pounds to 1.47 billion pounds, possibly because major brands of peanut butter were not recalled.

The report concluded that the far-reaching effects were increased media attention and discussions related to food safety. A copy of the report is available at the USDA-ERS Web site. A link to the study can be found on the Editor’s Blog at www.peanutgrower.com.


Obama Proposes Program Cuts
The Obama administration is seeking to limit direct payments to farmers by reducing the cap by 25 percent, and reducing each of the adjusted gross income (AGI) commodity payment eligibility limits for farm and non-farm income by $250,000 over three years.

The administration is also proposing to eliminate payments to cotton and peanut producers that compensate them for their cost of storing their commodities that are put under loan with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The Georgia Peanut Commission, representing 4,500 peanut farmers, said they encourage Congress to reject the President’s Fiscal Year 2011 budget proposals to eliminate storage payments for peanuts and payment limitation reductions. Both the peanut storage payments and the compromise language for payment limitations were part of the 2008 Farm Bill agreement.

“The current program’s safety net does not cover all costs associated with producing peanuts,” says Armond Morris, GPC Chairman. “To eliminate a significant part of the peanut program in the middle of a Farm Bill does not seem to be good agricultural policy. We are hopeful that Congress will reject the president’s proposals.

“If approved, this would be devastating to American agriculture,” he says.

Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Ga., who represents the largest U.S. peanut district, says, “I am highly disappointed in the President’s budget proposals to further reduce support for America’s peanut farmers. During the past several years, the peanut industry as a whole has made major concessions.

“In the 2002 Farm Bill, producers saw a price support system of $610 lowered to $355 per ton. The agricultural budget proposals released recently will further erode our farmers’ safety net, and that is unacceptable.”


NPB Marks 10 Years With Special Event
The National Peanut Board will celebrate 10 years of extolling the virtues of USA-grown peanuts with a luncheon and media event March 10, 2010, in Washington, D.C., featuring peanut-inspired dishes from some of the areas most celebrated chefs. The event will be held in the historic Eastern Market, Washington D.C.’s oldest continually operated fresh food market.
The event supports Share Our Strength: No Kid Hungry and Brainfood: A Recipe For Youth Development.


SC Studies Shelling Plant Feasibility
The South Carolina Farm Bureau conducted a feasibility study on the possibility of a shelling facility in the state.

Their report, “Feasibility Study for a Peanut Shelling Facility in South Carolina,” noted that peanut production in South Carolina has increased 834 percent from 2001 to 2008. In 2008, South Carolina averaged 3,900 pounds per acre, the highest in the country.

David Branham, from the Farm Bureau, said their analysis concluded that a plant that mills approximately 85,000 tons annually was feasible. The optimum location for a plant would be near the towns of Cameron or Orangeburg. The total investment would be $28 million including buildings, equipment and storage facilities.

For a copy the report, email Branham at dbranham@scfb.com.


Nominations Sought For PREA Award

The Peanut Foundation is seeking nominations for the 2010 Peanut Research and Education Award (PREA). This award is traditionally given to individuals or groups of individuals who have made significant contributions in the fields of research or education. Nominations should identify and describe the specific research project or educational activity for which the candidate is being considered. In addition to biographical information, the nomination should include an evaluation of the quality and/or effectiveness of the project or activity.

Nominations will be reviewed by the Technical Review Committee of The Peanut Foundation, and the award will be presented at the USA Peanut Congress June 19-22, 2010, at the Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island, Amelia Island, Fla., by the Bayer Corporation. Winner(s) will receive an expense-paid trip to the Peanut Congress, a plaque and an honorarium of $1,000.

Send nominations to the American Peanut Council no later than Friday, March 5, 2010. Mail to Cindy Stickles, APC, 1500 King Street, Suite 301, Alexandria, VA 22314 or email Cindy at cstickles@peanutsusa.com.


SC Producers Give Back To The Community
Almost 300 producers convened in Orangeburg, S.C., for the South Carolina Peanut Growers Meeting. More than 30 exhibitors displayed products and new technology at the First Baptist Church Family Life Center.

Richard Rentz, Chairman of the South Carolina Peanut Board, welcomed producers and announced that nearly 7,000 jars of peanut butter would be donated to the Cooperative Church Ministries Food Bank as part of the day’s festivities.

Production winners for the 2009 crop were as follows: Ricky and Delano Neese Farms averaging 5,706 pounds per acre on 396 acres; William Welsh averaging 4,984 pounds per acre on 62 acres. The peanut board honored Ashley Bush and Claude Elmore, who were retiring from the board, for their service to peanut producers and South Carolina’s peanut industry.


Peanut Butter For Haiti Continues
The U.S. peanut industry responded quickly to the crisis in Haiti resulting from the earthquake on Jan. 12, 2010. The industry, along with other partners and agricultural groups, has formed a coalition to offer support by sending truckloads of peanut butter to the people of Haiti.

Peanut butter is the perfect food since it does not need refrigeration, does not require cooking and delivers a nutritional punch that is life-sustaining.

The project, Peanut Butter for Haiti, was initiated by Barton Rice, executive director of Early County 2055, a Blakely, Ga., non-profit organization, who stepped forward with the first financial pledge to deliver peanut butter to Haiti.

The project expanded when Lisa Collins, also of Early County 2055, contacted several peanut organization leaders to obtain advice on the best way to purchase the peanut butter and have it shipped to Haiti. Golden Peanut Company, Birdsong Peanuts and the Georgia Peanut Commission immediately met the pledge from Early County, and the project was off. Early Trucking and Southern Ag Carriers immediately offered to donate the transportation for the peanut butter.

In less than three weeks, the project raised $107,000 in cash donations used to purchase peanut butter at cost, in addition to the approximately $200,000 worth of donated peanut butter. The coalition has purchased peanut butter at cost from Kroger, ConAgra and Ralcorp and has received peanut butter donated by The J.M. Smucker Company and John B. Sanfilippo and Sons.

The coalition also purchased $8,000 worth of “Family Peanut Boxes” containing peanut products and bottled water from the National Peanut Buying Points Association to go to Haiti.
Seven days after the earthquake, two truckloads of peanut butter, almost 75,000 pounds, were delivered to Norfolk, Va., and loaded on a military ship, the USS Sacagawea, bound for Haiti and are being distributed on the ground by “Operation Blessing,” a charity based in Virginia Beach, Va. Four days later, two more truckloads were delivered to Miami for transfer to Haiti by airfreight and barge through “Catholic Relief Services” and “Food for the Poor.”

A fifth load of peanut butter arrived in Miami awaiting shipment aboard a Carnival Cruise ship for “Operation Blessing.” Then, a sixth truckload was purchased when the coalition was contacted by “Feed the Children,” whom urgently need peanut butter to distribute because their warehouse in Haiti was destroyed in the earthquake and all their supplies were lost. That load was shipped on Feb. 8, 2010.

The collection of funds for this project will continue through the end of March, which is National Peanut Month. Organizations can participate by sending tax deductible contributions to EC 2055 - PNB for Haiti, P.O. Box 725, Blakely, GA 39823. Make checks payable to: “Early County 2055” and note “PB for Haiti.”

For more information, contact Sally Tabb Wells at 229-400-1121, or Lisa Collins at EC2055 229-724-7558.


APC, Growers Visit West Africa
Representatives from the American Peanut Council’s Government Purchases Committee traveled to Senegal and Mali in January. The trip was made possible by funding received through USDA’s Emerging Markets Program, which the APC applied for after receiving funding from the industry through the “Peanut Butter for the Hungry” initiative.

The purpose of the trip to West Africa was to follow up on market research done in 2009 to determine which countries presented the best opportunities for increasing the use of ready-to-use therapeutic foods (RUTF) by assisting in the development of local production. Locally produced RUTF could provide an opportunity for exporting U.S. peanuts, in addition to producing a much needed food for malnourished kids.

The group, which included APC President Bob Parker of Golden Peanut Company, grower representatives Armond Morris (Georgia Peanut Commission) and Robbie Blount (Western Peanut Growers Association) as well as APC and USDA staff and consultant Chris Goldthwait, first stopped in Senegal and then traveled to Mali. Attendees visited potential importers, representatives of the World Food Programme, UNICEF, the Senegalese Minister of Agriculture, USAID and the U.S. embassy in both countries. The group also had an opportunity to visit Plumpy’nut feeding sites in both Senegal and Mali.

The APC staff will give a complete report and discuss the next steps at their spring conference.
 

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