•Peanut organizations join in on letter to Congress concerning President’s cuts to programs funded through Farm Bill.
•APC unites industry to raise funds for cold storage for peanut germplasm collection.
•Senate asks Risk Management Agency to think before acting.
•Alternatives to current grading system being studied.
•Dr. Tom Whitaker receives APC’s Lifetime Achievement Award for distinguished career spanning 42 years.
•Climatologist says indicators point to a dry May and June.
•Second Peanut Proud event in Blakely, Ga., draws more than 5,000 attendees to celebrate peanuts.
Groups Say, ‘Leave Ag Budget Alone.’
Thirty-five farm organizations, including the Western Peanut Growers Association, the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation and groups in North Carolina and Virginia, sent a letter to the House Congressional Budget Committee concerning the President’s budget.
“As Congress begins consideration of the 2011 budget, we write to express our opposition to the President’s proposed cuts to the farm safety net. While we agree that reducing the deficit is necessary, we do not believe America’s farmers and ranchers should have to bear a disproportionate burden of the cuts,” the letter read.
“Notably, the farm safety net cuts included in the President’s budget appear to be proposed not for the purpose of deficit reduction, but rather to offset the cost of spending increases contained elsewhere in the USDA budget.
“All told, the President’s budget proposal for USDA actually increases total outlays by more than $4 billion.”
The letter continued, “The budget cuts to the farm safety net also appear to disregard the fact that the 2008 Farm Bill ... was fiscally responsible and completely offset so as not to add to our country’s deficit. In fact, these provisions were already cut by $7.4 billion in 2008, the only core provisions to experience a cut, bringing their share of the total federal budget down to less than one quarter of one percent and just 17 percent of the USDA budget.
“Yet, the President’s budget proposal breaks a five-year commitment made to America’s farmers and ranchers by seeking to further cut the farm safety net.
“Producers have made business decisions based on this contract with the government, and to break these commitments would be destabilizing to a rural economy that is already impacted by this country’s severe recession and credit crisis.”
The groups also point out in the letter that the President’s budget proposes billions of dollars in cuts to the federal crop insurance program which sustained cuts in the 2008 Farm Bill and that Congress debated and rejected additional cuts to crop insurance during consideration of the last budget resolution.
Congressional leaders of peanut states indicate that the Farm Bill will not be reopened by Congress, and they expect funding to continue as approved.
Saving The Peanut Gene Bank
The American Peanut Council along with state organizations have launched a letter-writing campaign to save the USDA Peanut Germplasm Collection based in Griffin, Ga.
Managed by the University of Georgia Griffin campus, in cooperation with USDA, the collections of peanut varieties from around the world provide breeders and other scientists access to the breadth of genetic diversity for enhancing yield and improving crop quality.
The collection has more than 10,000 cultivated lines representing all market types and wild peanut accessions representing 79 species. The gene bank gets nearly 1,470 accessions on average per year from all over the world.
Scientists reported that the life of the peanut seed may be extended with cold storage. The Plant Genetic Resources Conservation Unit has no facilities to accommodate this need.
Cost of the new facility would be $35,000 for design and $342,000 for construction. The ability to store this germplasm would help ensure adequate supplies of viable seed to meet escalating customer needs and reduce operation costs by two-fold each year.
The APC is working to unite support of the project from the industry and is seeking funding of the project to preserve the peanut germplasm for future generations. For more information, contact the APC at 703-838-9500 or by email at email@example.com.
Study Crop Insurance Before Cuts
The Senate Agriculture Committee, in the form of a letter, recently expressed appreciation for the Risk Management Agency’s (RMA) willingness to reconsider its previous proposals as the Standard Reinsurance Agreement (SRA) renegotiation proceeds, but remain concerned about proposals that may undermine the program, reduce the quality of service and availability of the program and harm rural America through job loss.
A total of 28 senators signed the letter to RMA. The Senators also noted concern with RMA’s approach of proposing significant cuts to the program prior to the completion of a study of program delivery costs.
Studies Look At Grading Alternatives
Joe Boddiford, Chairman of the Peanut Industry Grading System Committee, recently reported on the future of grading peanuts.
“We should be able to discover a quicker, more efficient way to grade peanuts,” Boddiford said.
The committee is looking at the BEST X-Ray Grading Machine from Belgium and have tested lots in the three growing regions.
USDA-ARS has developed and completed a study of a microwave moisture meter for both in-shell and shelled peanuts that could reduce delays and no-sales at the buying point.
Jim Leek and Associates and Dr. Julie Marshall are looking at the potential for using cameras and color images of in-shell peanuts to determine internal damage and kernel content.
Tests this harvest season will look at reducing the number of probes used to secure samples and using an automatic sampler to check for foreign material.
Whitaker Receives Lifetime Award
American Peanut Council’s Lifetime Achievement Award was created in 1999 to honor individuals who have made significant contributions to the industry. Recipients of this award are recognized for lifetime contributions to the advancement of the peanut industry.
Dr. Tom Whitaker received the Lifetime Achievement Award this year during APC’s Spring Conference in Washington, D.C. He received the award for the invaluable contributions he has made to the peanut industry with advancements in peanut safety, most notably, aflatoxin sampling and testing.
Whitaker’s research career with the USDA-ARS has spanned 42 years. He has authored or co-authored approximately 125 publications and has made more than 110 presentations at national and international scientific meetings and workshops.
His research efforts, directed towards the development of methods to evaluate the performance and the design of mycotoxin sampling plans for agricultural commodities, have established him as a recognized expert and world leader in his field. His research program has been recognized by the Food Engineering Division of the American Society of Agricultural Engineers as one of the six outstanding research achievements of the 20th Century.
Indicators Point To Dry Summer
David Zierden, Florida climatologist and speaker at the recent American Peanut Shellers meeting, said that the present El Nino weather pattern in the Pacific Ocean allowed the weather team to predict on target the colder and wetter-than-normal winter.
He noted that present data indicates that the Pacific Ocean is five to six degrees warmer, which will change the storm tracks for the United States. He also said the data indicates a dryer-than-normal May and June.
Producers can review climate data at www.agroclimate.org.
Second Peanut Proud A Great Success
More than 5,000 people turned up in Blakely, Ga., in late March to celebrate peanuts for the second consecutive year. The day started at 8 a.m. with a 5K run and ended at 10 p.m. with a street dance to the music of The Fabulous Expressions.
The event included a parade with almost 60 entries, followed by a program emceed by Don Koehler, Georgia Peanut Commission, that included remarks by U.S. Congressman Sanford Bishop, Georgia Representative Gerald Greene, Georgia Farm Bureau president Zippy Duvall, GPC chairman Armond Morris, Blakely’s mayor Ric Hall and the president of Peanut Proud, LeaJean Manry.
Rep. Greene read a proclamation passed by the Georgia House of Representatives commending Barton Rice and Early County 2055, Birdsong Peanuts and the entire industry for their efforts in the Peanut Butter for Haiti project.
On behalf of the Peanut Proud Board, Ryan Lepicier presented a $2,000 scholarship award to Rachel McEgan, a University of Florida graduate student, whose research focuses on salmonella.
All day there were games, contests, educational exhibits and nearly 1,000 PB&J sandwiches were grilled for the crowd.
NPB Opens Carver Award
The National Peanut Board (NPB) has begun taking applications for the ninth 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.
The renowned scientist overcame incredible odds to become the "father of the peanut industry." Carver's discoveries spurred many uses of the peanut, increasing the legume's popularity and making peanuts a staple in the American diet.
Application forms are available online at www.nationalpeanutboard.org. Once 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 June 14, 2010.
"Production research is vital to peanut farmers. I think it's great that the National Peanut offers this award to encourage young researchers to advance the future of peanut farming in a variety of areas," says NPB research committee chairman and Florida board member Michael Davis
This year's winner will be presented with a check for $1,000 and a plaque at the 2010 American Peanut Research and Education Society's (APRES) Annual Conference in Clearwater, Fla., July 13-16.
GPC Awards School Nutritionists
The Georgia Peanut Commission (GPC) awarded five Georgia School Nutrition members for developing new peanut and peanut butter recipes for the statewide Tempting and Tasty Peanut Recipe Contest and for their usage of peanuts and peanut butter in 2009. The awards were presented April 9 at the Georgia School Nutrition Association Annual Meeting in Atlanta, Ga. Grady County peanut grower and GPC board member, John Harrell, presented the awards.
Tracy Kern, Forysth County, received top honors in the breakfast category with her recipe, "Peanut Butter Breakfast Squares." Sherri Hanson of Rockdale County took home top honors in the lunch category of the peanut recipe contest for the Georgia School Nutrition Association with her recipe, "Peanutty Rice and Chicken". Danielle Faircloth, Lowndes County, received second place and Jane Raburn, Carrollton City, received third place in the lunch category.
The entries were prepared and judged as part of the Georgia School Nutrition Association Culinary Competition in March, 2010, at Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School in Tucker, Ga.
The GPC also awarded the Valdosta City School System with first place for the Peanut Usage Contest. This award was presented to Valdosta for using the most poundage of peanuts and/or peanut butter based on a per student amount. The school system served 6,432 pounds of peanut butter and/or peanuts from the beginning of the school year through December 2009 to 7,500 students.
The GPC presented these awards on behalf of Georgia's 4,500 peanut farmers. For additional information on the GPC, visit www.gapeanuts.com.