Stabenow Talks Farm Bill
Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mi) recently told reporters, “We’re going to start right now and move through the process, and we’ll make decisions as we go along.
“In terms of an exact timetable, I think it’s in the interest of agriculture, given the backdrop that we’re in right now around budgets and deficits, to move in a thoughtful, methodical way and get this in place as soon as we can.”
She noted that the discussion should re-examine the direct payment program to establish the committee’s credibility in a tight budget period; to expand crop insurance to cover more crops; to continue the sugar program; to use the National Milk Producers Federation’s “Foundation for the Future” proposal as a starting point for changing the dairy program; and to continue the specialty crops program from the 2008 Farm Bill.
The committee will remind members of Congress that agriculture has already contributed $4 billion to deficit reduction over 10 years through the renegotiation of the crop insurance standard reinsurance agreement. She also noted that the continuing resolution adopted recently cut rural development, research and conservation.
Seed Prices Up A Dime Or More
Peanut seed prices opened at local buying points this spring at 10 to 14 cents per pound more than last year.
Certified Georgia 06G was priced at 89 to 91 cents per pound and registered seed of that variety was 91 to 93 cents per pound. Georgia 07W and Florida 07 were also priced at the same level.
Tifguard is slightly higher in price with certified and registered seed at 92 and 94 cents per pound, respectively. Tifguard has excellent nematode resistance and will become more important as a variety with the loss of Temik.
Financing programs for seed will favor peanut planting.
Weather Network At Risk In Georgia
The Georgia Automated Environmental Monitoring Network, operated by the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, is on the budget chopping block due to key faculty and funding losses.
Producers depend on the network for weather reports and soil and water information to make production decisions. The network costs more than $300,000 annually to operate. Each weather station in the network records rainfall, air and soil temperatures, relative humidity, wind speed and direction, solar radiation, soil moisture and barometric pressure. Some stations record evaporation, water temperature and leaf wetness. The values are read every second, and an average is recorded every 15 minutes.
Other businesses use the information, too. One of the largest is utility companies, who use the data to determine peak energy usage times. The Web site averages more than one-half million hits by 60,000 separate visitors each month.
The network was to be shut down April 15, but funds from the Georgia Department of Agriculture and the UGA Horticulture Department has extended the program until July 1.
UGA Dean Scott Angle recently said, “We’ve gotten tremendous support, and I feel pretty confident we’re going to find a way to keep it open.”
Budget Cuts Threaten Research Lab
The next $60 billion in budget cuts in Washington D.C. or the “continuing resolution” is said to contain major reductions in the budget of the Agricultural Research Service’s National Peanut Lab in Dawson, Ga. This research funding is critical to the long-term viability and sustainability of the U.S. peanut industry.
Marshall Lamb, NPRL director, says if proposed funding reductions are realized, the lab would see a 25 percent reduction or more than $1 million. Projects impacted would include irrigation, sustainable production, genetics and physiology, post harvest systems and mycotoxin prevention – all key to peanut production.
Health Claim For Peanuts In EU
The American Peanut Council (APC) recently announced that the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) approved a health claim aimed at the general population for peanuts, peanut oil and peanut butter, produced exclusively from roasted peanuts.
In its scientific opinion, EFSA said that the clinical intervention evidence submitted had successfully demonstrated that the cholesterol-lowering effect of peanuts could be attributed to the content of mono- and poly-unsaturated fatty acids in peanuts and that part of this beneficial health effect was due to the replacement of saturated fats in the diet by unsaturated fats, which are prevalent in peanuts. Maintenance of normal blood LDL-cholesterol concentrations is a beneficial physiological effect and EFSA recognized its importance for promoting heart health.
For the European consumer, this evidence points towards frequent consumption of small handfuls, about 30 grams, of peanuts or the equivalent amounts of peanut butter, exclusively made from roasted peanuts or peanut oil, on most days of the week to replace other foods that are high in saturated fat to help achieve healthy cholesterol levels and help promote heart health.
Louise McKerchar, APC’s European director said, “It was a long time coming, but the waiting has been worth it. The APC will now be able to work with members and customers for American peanuts in Europe to make the most of this very important step forward. We look forward to the dialogue with our members and customers about how this health claim can benefit them.”
After further study of the EFSA’s findings, the APC will determine when the peanut health claim can be used and under what conditions and will provide that information to their membership.
GPC Approves $254,000 For Research
The Georgia Peanut Commission recently approved $254,000 in research projects. The projects include 27 proposals from the University of Georgia, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Fort Valley State and the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.
“We are proud of our close relationship and partnership with research institutions,” says Donald Chase, producer and GPC research committee chairman. “Peanut growers are pleased to invest in the future by providing monetary support for research and education that has continued to demonstrate a return on our investment.”
The projects primarily focus on economics, conservation methods, irrigation and water management, peanut breeding for higher yield, improved quality, pests, weed and disease management and allergen-free peanuts.
NPB Creates New Nutrition Web Site
The National Peanut Board recently launched a new Web site, www.skinnyonnuts.com, to help consumers understand the unique role that peanuts and peanut products can play as part of a healthy diet.
The new micro site presents nutritional information, recipes and energy-boosting snack ideas in fun and engaging ways – all designed to reinforce peanuts’ three key nutritional benefits: Peanuts have more energy-boosting protein than any other nut; peanuts have more antioxidants than broccoli, carrots or green tea; and peanuts are a Super Food with over 30 vitamins and nutrients. The site also presents tips on eating a gluten-free diet and facts about food allergies.
According to new research commissioned by NPB in February, while most consumers say they agree with recommendations in the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans that call for eating a more plant-based diet, among other changes, only one-third believe they’re knowledgeable about how to do so.
NPB Taking Applications For 10th Annual Carver Award
The National Peanut Board (NPB) has begun taking applications for the tenth 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.”
Application forms are available online at www.nationalpeanutboard.org/news_carveraward.php. 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 17, 2011.
“Production research is vital to peanut farmers,” says NPB research committee chairman and Virginia board member Jeffrey Pope. “This award is given to encourage young researchers to advance the future of peanut farming in a variety of areas.”
The winner will be recognized by NPB at the American Peanut Research and Education Society’s Annual Meeting in San Antonio, Texas, July 12-14, 2011, where he or she will be presented with a check for $1,000 and a plaque.
Dire Drought Situation In Southwest, Plains States
AccuWeather.com reports that the Plains states have had the driest four-month period since before the 1930s Dust Bowl, and much of the area is at great risk from wildfires.
According to the latest release from the U.S. Drought Monitor in April, a severe-to-extreme drought is affecting a large area from Louisiana and Arkansas to Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado.
In addition to causing significant crop damage, the drought has also been contributing to an extreme risk of wildfires over the past couple of months, especially from western Texas into Oklahoma and Colorado. Wildfires in western Texas have scorched more than 230,000 acres and destroyed approximately 80 homes and buildings.
The threat for wildfires is likely to remain high across the region through the rest of the spring and summer with drier-than-normal conditions predicted.
The fire danger becomes especially high when storm systems kick up high winds across the area. Gusty wind events tend to be more common during the spring than summer.
Peanut Butter Art At The Nutropolitan Museum
The National Peanut Board partnered with Peanut Butter & Co. in New York for the first ever PB&J art exhibit, The Nutropolitan Museum of Art. This three-day event, held in New York City at Openhouse Gallery, featured a peanut art gallery along with many peanutty fun events and activities for consumers and media. Each family that visited the gallery received one free jar of peanut butter and a second jar was donated to the Food Bank for New York City on their behalf.
Attendees observed peanut art, created their own PB&J sandwiches, which were photographed, met peanut farmers and snacked on peanut dishes. At a VIP preview event, influential media saw the exhibit, sampled PB&J-inspired cocktails and hors d’oeuvres and received promotional gift bags with donated samples of peanut items including Ricky’s Lucky Nuts, Sir Francis Bacon Peanut Brittle, Protein Plus Peanut Flour and more.
In addition to the art gallery, NPB held a health and wellness seminar for local dietitians, fitness trainers and nutrition experts on the nutritional benefits of peanuts and peanut products. More than 4,000 consumers visited the Nutropolitan Museum of Art.