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Growers Caucus on Peanut Program
The National Peanut Grower Group (NPGG) has been notified that commodity hearings could begin as early as March 2001, and the U.S. House of Representatives Agricultural Committee wants changes in the peanut program.

Wilbur Gamble, NPGG chairman, told the delegates of the grower coalition, "The peanut program has been good for farmers and consumers. Our mission is to design another program that is as good or better than what we have and to go to Washington as a united producer group. United we have a chance."

A decision must be made on whether the federal peanut program remains a no-net-cost program, changes to a line-item budget with costs or is completely done away with in favor of something else. The peanut program is the only no-net-cost program, although farmers have received marketing assistance the past two years. Complicating matters, imports from Central and South America could flood the U.S. market in 2004, when importers can pay the tariff and remain under the quota minimum price of $610 per ton.

The NPGG will meet again prior to any hearings.


Drought May Continue in Southeast
Harold Reheis, director of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD), said recently that Southwest Georgia is entering a fourth consecutive year of severe drought. If stream and groundwater levels in Southwest Georgia do not improve in 30 days, the Flint River Drought Protection Act may be enacted. EPD is expected to make a determination by March 1 on whether to implement the act.

Farmers who voluntarily remove acreage from irrigation will be compensated through an auction, similar to the Conservation Reserve Program. The auction would be limited to farmers with current surface-water withdrawal permits in the Flint River Basin.


Industry Leaders Team Up on Delta
The Georgia Peanut Commission, the Georgia Peanut Producers Association and the National Peanut Board have an organized effort to lobby Delta Airlines to return peanuts to the snack line-up on their flights. President Jimmy Carter is assisting the effort by visiting with company officials. The Georgia Department of Industry and Trade and Georgia’s Lieutenant Governor Mark Taylor are also contacting the airlines for action.

"With Delta’s head office being in Atlanta, it just does not make sense for them to not serve peanuts. Let’s get peanuts back on Delta flights. There are some things that just make good common sense," Taylor says.

Delta officials say peanuts were dropped from flights because of the allergy issue, however, the alternative snack now served on all flights contains about three peanuts per bag.


President Bush’s Favorite
The White House Cafeteria is now serving peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, the professed favorite of President George W. Bush, and Texas peanuts were on hand at the official inaugural luncheon, thanks to the Texas Peanut Producers Board and the Western Peanut Growers Association.


Menguy’s Peanuts Move into Texas
Menguy’s Peanut Company and United Supermarkets are now offering the 2 pound vacuum-packed roasted peanuts made exclusively from Texas peanuts. Menguy’s peanuts are being sold in all 42 stores of the Lubbock-based supermarket chain. Each package guarantees the peanuts are grown in Texas.

Menguy’s has a patented roasting process and has peanuts packaged for Texas, Oklahoma, Georgia, Florida and Alabama.


Prevention Magazine Promotes Peanut Butter
The March edition of Prevention magazine features "The Amazing Peanut Butter Diet" as its cover story, coupled with 18 pages of nutritional information and recipes.

John Powell, president of The Peanut Institute, says, "This is one of the most amazing endorsements of our product in the history of the industry. The Peanut Institute is thankful for the placement."

The issue includes an advertisement by the National Peanut Board promoting the folic acid component of peanuts. Folic acid helps prevent birth defects.

Pat Kearney, nutritionist for the institute says, "It would have cost $1.6 million to advertise, but the article is worth seven to 10 times this amount in reader credibility


In Brief
- National Peanut Grower Group discusses possible program changes.

- Drought expected to continue in the Southeast.

- Prevention magazine features "The Amazing Peanut Butter Diet."

- Grower Associations lobby Delta Airllines to bring back peanut snacks.

- Menguy’s now sells exclusively Texas-grown peanuts.

- Peanuts were available at President Bush’s inagural luncheon, thanks to Texas grower groups.