Monday, July 15, 2024

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Nearly everyone agrees that peanuts have a great story to tell. It’s a nutritious food and good source of affordable protein. The crop fits into a rotation with other crops. The water footprint to grow peanuts is much less by far than any tree nuts and has even been reduced by 33% in the past few decades.

Even though these things are known, it’s not the same coming from researchers or promotion boards. Consumers, manufacturers and trading partners are pushing to know more about their food products and to know that it’s grown in a way that is taking care of the environment. But it’s farmers who are critical in the process of explaining how sustainable peanuts are as a food commodity.

“Like the Cotton Trust Protocol, the Sustainable U.S. Peanuts program is a mechanism to gather data and provide it to those who need it while protecting your privacy,” says Allie Randall, American Peanut Council director of sustainability. “We need farmer input. It takes roughly an hour to sit down and input the information about your production practices and its basic information.”

All answers are pooled together as the U.S. peanut industry, and no one has access to individual farmer data.

“To be an accurate representation of the industry, we need more producer involvement,” Randall says. “It does not involve your entire farming operation but instead asks you to map out only about 10% of it.”

For the 2022 crop year, Randall says about 99,000 acres were represented, which is about 7% of total peanut acreage.

“For this year, we are trying to get to 10% total acres and at least 300 growers,” she says. “It’s easy to do. You can even use your cell phone, and you can work on it a little at a time instead of all in one sitting.

“We are now collecting data on the 2023 crop through April,” she says. “Growers who are already in the Cotton Trust Protocol can join that account with Sustainable U.S. Peanuts to streamline the enrollment process.”

The 2022 crop program highlights include that growers are utilizing good management practices on their farms and 90% of participants:

Plant cover crops on some of their fields every year.

Work with agronomic advisors for management decisions.

Use GPA and other precision application tools to increase resource management efficiency. PG

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