Friday, February 23, 2024

U.S. Peanut Federation Testifies At Senate Ag Trade Hearing

The U.S. Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Commodities, Risk Management and Trade held a hearing June 9, 2022, on “Agricultural Trade: Priorities and Issues Facing America’s Farmers.” Karla Baker Thompson, producer from Camilla, Georgia, represented the U.S. Peanut Federation and testified about issues facing the industry.

Karla Thompson, Georgia peanut producer testifies at a Senate hearing.

Thompson presented information on peanut export markets. In Canada, the United States has witnessed an increase in the past few years, but it is significantly off compared to 2013. Trade with Japan has been generally flat with significant market swings year after year. The United States has experienced a general upward trend in market share for Mexico but with significant swings year after year. China is an unpredictable market for U.S. peanuts. While the Chinese purchased a significant amount of U.S. peanuts in 2016 and again in 2020, there is clearly no consistency in export sales to China.

Thompson highlighted the decline in exports to the European Union for U.S. peanuts. While the EU market saw an increase in the first three months of 2022, the trend going all the way back to 2003 has been down. The U.S. market share decreased from approximately 40% in 2003 to 14% in 2021. Much of this market loss has been to developing countries. 

“Our best markets, and those with the most potential for growth, are the markets that pay premium prices,” Thompson said. “These markets provide prices that are profitable for exporters and have an impact on grower prices.”

‘Farming Is Always Tough, But Especially Now’

U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga, subcommittee chairman, said, “Today’s hearing is an opportunity for members to hear from farmers regarding trade challenges and priorities in today’s changing economy. Just last week, I spent time meeting with farmers and agriculture leaders to discuss the stress our farmers are experiencing. The message I heard was clear — farming is always a tough job, but especially right now. Farmers in Georgia and throughout the country have been forced to navigate a tremendous amount of uncertainty the past few years. Trade wars, COVID-19 supply chain disruptions and Russia’s war in Ukraine have sent shockwaves through global commodity markets.”

Chairman Warnock also commented on the peanut industry’s struggles with the EU, “Last year, I partnered with Sen. Tuberville to highlight concerns to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative raised by our peanut farmers in getting their products to market in Europe and ways we need federal agencies to better coordinate and step up to help address this issue.”

Other individuals testifying included Gopinath Munisamy, distinguished professor from the University of Georgia’s Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Sheryl Meshke, president and CEO of Associated Milk Producers Inc. and Neal Fisher, of the North Dakota Wheat Commission.

The USPF is comprised of the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation, the American Peanut Shellers Association, and the National Peanut Buying Points Association. PG

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