Producers Unveil Program Needs
Jimbo Grissom, president, Western Peanut Growers Association, addressed the Senate Ag Committee in Washington, D.C., recently unveiling proposals from the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation, who represents growers in Georgia, Florida, Alabama and Mississippi, and the United Peanut Alliance, representing producers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.
Grissom said producers are looking for two important provisions: An equitable risk management tool at USDA and a peanut program that provides “producer choice” between a counter-cyclical program (assuming no direct payment) with a higher target price and a revenue program.
Peanut producers also want Risk Management Association (RMA) and USDA to implement the crop revenue insurance policy with the 2013 crop year. RMA has not cleared the program that growers have been working on the past two years with Agri-Logic, a private consulting firm with USDA. Similar to cotton and corn, peanuts would have a price discovery method that satisfies RMA and insurers to adequately develop the risk management tool for peanuts. The Rotterdam price of peanuts would be used as the verification system since peanuts has no futures market price.
Grissom said, “Once we have a crop insurance program established using the Rotterdam price, peanut growers would like to have the option between a counter-cyclical type program (with no direct payments) with a $534 per ton target price and a $355 per ton marketing loan; or a new revenue program based on the Rotterdam price with a price floor of $534 per ton and a differentiation in peanut yields between irrigated production and non-irrigated production with a $355 per ton marketing loan.
Under both choices, producers would continue to have a marketing loan program as it exists in the current Farm Bill in order to market their peanuts. The growers said they would support the language ensuring that USDA adjusts the relative price of the four types of peanuts from the Rotterdam price.
When the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation corrects any distortions or abnormalities that undermine the program, these adjustments must be open and transparent and reported to the House and Senate Ag Committees.
Grissom said, “We look forward to working with the committee to fix peanut crop insurance this year and, at the same time, craft a new peanut program that will work for all growers.”
Senators Talk Of Difficulties, Deep Cuts
Senator Debbie Stabenow, (R-MN), chairperson of the Senate Agriculture Committee, recently said, “I think the biggest challenge is getting the commodity title right because we have so many different regions and so many different commodities that when we move from direct payments to a risk-based model, not every commodity has the same access to crop insurance, the same coverage in crop insurance. So we really have to work that through.
She said southern producers tend to prefer a program that manages their price risk, such as raising target prices, but is criticized by some as price distortion that could sway planting decisions.”
Midwest growers, she said, prefer revenue risk protection that balances yield and price risk over a widespread or regional level, but some argue it favors those who live in areas with consistent weather and production histories.”
Senator Saxby Chambliss, (R-GA), told farmers at a rally in Georgia that the Senate will pass a Farm Bill this summer that cuts about $23 billion in agriculture and food programs over the next decade. He predicted those cuts may not be deep enough to satisfy the House.
“This is going to be by far the most difficult one to write and the process is not going to be pretty,” he said. “We’re going to see major changes, and these are going to be changes that are not going to be as welcome as some in the past.”
Will 2012 Yield A Farm Bill?
Rep. Mike Conaway, (R-TX), recently spoke about the Farm Bill, saying that options include letting the Farm Law expire, passing a new one or extending the current program for a year.
“We won’t let it expire,” he said. “If we can’t get a full one done, we’ll extend it, probably for a year.”
Conaway said the House will try to find most of the savings in nutrition programs, which make up 78 percent of farm program spending.
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, (R-WI), instructed his committee to trim $33.2 billion from farm programs in the next 10 years.
The Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction requested $23 billion. Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, (R-OK), said the proposals were just suggestions, but ranking member, Collin Peterson, (D-MN), said they “all but guarantee there will be no Farm Bill this year.”
Peanut Proud Taking Humanitarian Role
The recent celebration of Peanut Proud in Blakely, Ga., included a roundtable discussion about developing a peanut consortium for humanitarian efforts around the world using peanuts and peanut butter.
Among the goals of the discussion was to facilitate communication and coordination between the various groups involved in humanitarian efforts. Attendees felt that tremendous progress was made in the last few years in using the peanut as the “Magic Food” to help solve world hunger.
The result was a recommended structure for the peanut industry humanitarian “entity,” combining the efforts of the Peanut Proud Board and Peanut Butter for the Hungry (APC’s initiative) and looping in additional folks such as the experts from the University of Georgia.
Mark Manary, Founder of Project Peanut Butter, said, “We must work to make the world a better place. Eighty percent of the world hunger is about everyday grinding poverty.”
Mark Moore, CEO of MANA Nutrition or Mother’s Assisted Nutritive Aid, said, “The need in Africa is real, and we have the magic food to save these starving kids. I spent 10 years working in eastern Uganda, serving as a rural community worker and missionary. We can make a difference, and now we have that opportunity as an industry with MANA.”
Suki McClatchey, with Abbott Laboratories, is responsible for managing and developing programs with not-for-profit organizations that address global needs in the area of access to health care. She oversees the company’s disaster relief efforts and product donations program. With help from Birdsong Peanuts, Abbott has built a Lab Plant on Bay Street in Blakely, Ga.
A definition of the goals and activities for the new humanitarian organization would be defined from each of the existing organizations.
GPC Approves Research Funds
The Georgia Peanut Commission has approved $260,000 in research project funding for its 2012-13 research budget. The research projects approved include 22 project proposals from the 27 proposals submitted by the University of Georgia and USDA-ARS.
“We are proud of our close relationship and partnership with research institutions in the state,” says Donald Chase, 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.”
Georgia’s peanut growers invest $2 per ton annually toward research, promotion and education. Annual research funding has tracked at 21 percent of available GPC funds. This year the GPC will also manage 18 additional Georgia research projects using $526,000 in contracted funds from the National Peanut Board. There will be 40 total research projects in the amount of $786,000 managed by the GPC in 2012-13.
The GPC is stepping up efforts by funding research on the development and evaluation of new cultivars with an emphasis on disease resistance genetic markers, looking at Global Positioning System (GPS) managed systems and remote sensing using the automated weather and climate network data, improving methods to determine maturity and looking for answers for the burrower bug nemesis.
Chase says it is obvious that the peanut industry must continue to press for public or government support as we have lost 13 peanut scientists in Georgia over the past 10 years. Five of them were critical peanut scientists and Extension positions lost in the past five years that have not been replaced.
For additional information and a complete listing of the research projects funded by the Georgia Peanut Commission, visit www.gapeanuts.com.
Three Longtime TPPB Members Retire
Three longtime, dedicated board members are retiring from the Texas Peanut Producers Board after more than 100 years of combined service.
Those members are Ted Higginbottom of Seminole, Billy Shannon of Quitaque and Clifton Stacy of Pearsall.
Stacy, a 30-year veteran and former chairman, said, “I’ve enjoyed serving. I decided it is time to hand the reins to someone new.”
Shannon, with 37 years of service, said, “Since Texas is such a large state, each peanut producing region has different concerns, and I am proud the peanut board works to recognize these differences and keeps them in consideration when making an important decision on research and promotion.”
Ted Higginbottom, former chairman serving 33 years on the board, said, “Everyone listens to the needs of peanut farmers and members put aside individual needs and look at the overall picture, which is to help peanut producers in Texas.” PG