Reminiscing About 25 Years In Peanuts

11-13PGcvrWhat a challenge it has been, but what great people and what a great product we have.
By Tyron Spearman
Co-founder and Contributing Editor

I recall the day that Cathy Andrews walked into my Advertising Agency office in Tifton and said she was making plans to start a peanut magazine. After getting fired from the Georgia Peanut Commission, I, too, had dreams of starting a peanut magazine to help growers better market their peanuts and to better understand the world peanut markets.

We thought we were a great team as we tackled the issues one by one. Explaining peanut markets was not easy, although I had visited numerous markets in Europe, Canada and Mexico. First, the farmer was only concerned about the farmer-stock price at the local buying point and a safety net provided at the local Farm Service Agency office. Secondly, I learned quickly that if it didn’t impact the pocket book down on the farm, the farmer really was not concerned.

A Real Challenge
The Peanut Grower was about the only source for marketing information available to farmers. We received so much market news and data that I decided to start a newsletter, The Peanut Farm Market News. This one-page 3-times per week newsletter, which is a subscription newsletter, has become a marketing tool for all segments of the peanut industry.

The PFMN survives today and goes around the world, though a lot more read it than pay the low-priced subscription, to provide accurate, timely information. Some sources make major announcements to the industry via the newsletter, and many claim they would not know what happens in peanuts if they did not get the Peanut Farm Market News. Even news media use this as a source for development prime-time news and features.

Accuracy Still A Challenge
Today, the challenge still exists, getting accurate marketing information to peanut farmers and even other segments of the peanut industry. The industry has begged USDA for transparency, which the peanut law declares, but prices released for the industry are not explained. There are still many producers who could benefit from learning more about interpreting prices, understanding contracts and determining profitability.

Most farmers depend on that local buying point manager and sometimes never read the contract they end up signing. Trust me, that’s the reality, but in most cases, it works. So, maybe the farmer is right, find somebody you trust and let them worry about the market so that you can just grow peanuts. As one farmer said, “You’d be surprised how much your propaganda is read in the peanut industry and lots of decisions are made because of it!”

The People And The Product
The two assets the peanut industry has that have impressed me the most are the people and the product. From the farm hand that planted the peanuts to the company that filled the peanut butter jar, you won’t find a more dedicated and caring bunch. They enjoy the business and know that each step from the seed to the jar is important. They care and want to do a good job. The Salmonella scare really caused the entire industry to re-unite in cleaning up more than ever before. To see all segments united in legislation is another miracle, and the teamwork today is better than the 25 years previous.

I don’t think the world has yet discovered the ultimate nutrition and value of the peanut. When you’ve got a food product that is high in plant protein with healthy unsaturated fats and documented research proving that it reduces blood pressure, reduces heart disease risk, reduces Type 2 diabetes, helps prevent cancer, has a low glycemic index plus vitamins and minerals…it’s just a miracle food that should be on every table in America and around the world. Peanuts are so nutrient dense that they are like a vitamin pill.

Looking Ahead
I feel we have contributed to the success of the industry and that gives one a feeling of accomplishment. Lots of new challenges and opportunities await all segments of the peanut industry, which means the next 25 years should be even more exciting.

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