Senate Ag Committee Issues Farm Bill
The U.S. Senate Ag Committee voted to approve the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012, a bipartisan Farm Bill authored by Committee Chairwoman, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, R-Minn., and Ranking Member, Sen. Pat Roberts, D-Kan.
“The Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012 will save taxpayers billions of dollars while promising a safe and healthy national food supply,” Stabenow says. “By eliminating duplication and streamlining and consolidating programs we were able to continue investing in initiatives that help farmers and small businesses create jobs. This bill proves that by working across party lines, we can save taxpayer money and create smart, cost-effective policies that lay the foundation for a stronger, more prosperous economy.”
In peanuts, the bill eliminates direct payments ($36 per ton applied to base acres). Farmers will no longer be paid for crops they are not growing, will not be paid for acres that are not actually planted and will not receive support absent a drop in price or yields.
The bill seeks to strengthen crop insurance and expands access. The Average Crop Revenue Election program will be replaced with one program that has a $50,000 payment cap for an individual or a $100,000 cap for a married couple.
Stabenow says that this bill will have “the tightest payment limits ever,” and, overall, it will save about $24.7 billion over 10 years under the Congressional Budget Office cost estimate. Commodity programs showed $17.6 billion in cuts with $6 billion more cuts in conservation programs as well. Areas such as conservation and rural development will see significant consolidation. The bill lowers the adjusted gross income eligibility to $750,000 and makes major changes to the language describing “actively engaged” to further restrict those eligible for payments.
Opposition To The Senate Bill
Senator Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., did not support the bill, saying, “I voted against advancing this bill out of committee because of the severe inequities the bill created between regions and crops.”
The bill passed the Senate Agriculture Committee by a vote of 16 to 5. For more on the Farm Bill, including response from House members, see “Farm Bill Update” on page 10.
Peanut Industry Responds To The Bill
The Southern Peanut Farmers Federation joined other southern agricultural organizations in thanking some members of the Senate Ag Committee for their ardent support. Along with the SPFF, the US Rice Producers Association, the USA Rice Federation and the Western Peanut Growers issued a statement concerning consideration of the 2012 Farm Bill by the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee.
The statement says, “We thank Sens. Chambliss, Cochran and Boozman for their steadfast support of equitable treatment of all cotton, rice and peanut farmers in the Farm Bill. While we are disappointed in the Senate package due to its lack of equitable treatment of many of the producers we represent, we appreciate the efforts of these Senators in so faithfully giving voice to so many farmers locked out of an effective safety net under the bill.”
Armond Morris, chairman of the Georgia Peanut Commission, says, “We do appreciate the efforts of the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Committee to make some accommodation for our producers, and we remain hopeful that, as the process moves forward, cotton, rice and peanut farmers in all these growing regions might be allowed to participate as equals alongside other commodities in having access to risk management tools provided by the Farm Bill.”
Expect Amendments On Senate Floor
Senator Chambliss plans to offer several amendments to the Senate’s Farm Bill during the floor debate.
Some of those amendments cover topics as follows: to provide peanut producers with an option to elect a pricebased counter cyclical program in lieu of revenue approaches with a $534 per ton reference price based on planted acres up to base; to insert a reference price for peanuts as a price floor in the Benchmark Revenue calculation of the two revenue options equal to $534 per ton; to only make ARC (Agricultural Risk Coverage) payment if actual revenue is below the cost of production, as defined by the Secretary, to require an actual loss on the farm under the area-wide option of ARC; and lastly, to require an inclusion of the higher of the Rotterdam price or reference price for peanuts.
At this time, Senate debate of the Farm Bill had not been scheduled.
Senate Bill Includes Promotion Funding
Peanut industry members were proud to learn that the Senate’s Farm Bill includes full funding for the Marketing Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) at the current levels of $200 million and $34.5 million annually.
The peanut industry receives about $2 million annually through the American Peanut Council, with growers, shellers and export manufacturers participating in the program.
The industry has long been a leader in developing outstanding programs and expanding markets around the world with a cooperative funded program. These programs have helped to maintain and expand U.S. peanut exports, protect and create American jobs, strengthen farm income and offset the considerable government-supported advantages afforded to international competitors.
GPC Affirmed By Producers
Georgia’s peanut producers reaffirmed the Georgia Peanut Commission (GPC) by a vote of 87.6 percent during the recent referendum, held March 15 through April 15.
“I appreciate the farmer’s confidence in the commission and we are committed to continue earning that confidence,” says Armond Morris, peanut farmer from Ocilla, Ga., and GPC chairman. “The commission continues to work together as a partnership between Georgia’s peanut farmers, the commission board and staff, in funding research projects to assist with increasing yield, promoting peanuts and working on the farmers’ behalf in Washington, D.C.”
As required by Georgia state law, the state’s peanut farmers vote on the commission every three years. The ballots were mailed to peanut growers the week of March 15 and the Certified Public Accounting firm of Allen, Pritchett and Bassett counted the ballots returned on April 24.
“For two and a half decades I have been privileged to work with Georgia peanut farmers,” says Don Koehler, GPC’s executive director. “The commission will continue to strengthen profit opportunities for Georgia’s farmers through programs in research, education and promotion.”
Georgia peanut farmers invest $2 per ton each year to the commission that is used in the program areas of research, education, promotion and communication. For additional information on the Georgia Peanut Commission, visit their Web site at www.gapeanuts.com.
USDA Says More Peanuts, Less Cotton
USDA predicts that producers will shift more cotton acreage back to peanuts this year. The Oilseed Crop Outlook states that, last year, producers in the South switched many acres from peanuts to cotton production. The situation will reverse this year as cotton supplies are now abundant.
In contrast, carryover stocks for peanuts are expected to fall to a nineyear low and prices have risen to a 21- year high. Consequently, sowing intentions for peanuts this year are up 25 percent to 1.4 million acres while an 11 percent decline is seen for cotton acreage. If realized, this would be the highest U.S. peanut acreage since 2008.
Georgia is expected to account for most of the gains in acreage.
NPB Announces 2012 Carver Award
The National Peanut Board is taking applications for the eleventh annual Dr. George Washington Carver Award. The award is open to both undergraduate and graduate students, and the winner receives a $1,000 prize, with a matching amount awarded to the winner’s college or university for peanut research.
The NPB rewards a future peanut researcher’s hard work and community spirit with this award commemorating America’s foremost peanut researcher. The standards for judging exemplify the spirit of Dr. George Washington Carver: A positive, measurable impact on peanut cultivation or peanut product development and strength of character as reflected by community involvement or service.
Applications are available online at www.nationalpeanutboard.org. Once completed, entries should be mailed to the National Peanut Board Dr. Carver Award, 2839 Paces Ferry Road, Suite 210, Atlanta, GA 30339. The deadline for applications is June 8, 2012.
This year’s winner will be presented with a check for $1,000 and a plaque at the 2012 American Peanut Research and Education Society’s Annual Conference in Raleigh, N. C., July 10-12.
USDA Seeks Grower Comments
USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service has received a request that the sample size used for determining the segregation of farmer’s stock peanuts for lots over 10 tons be reduced from the current 1,000 gram “cleaned” sample to a 500 gram “cleaned” sample.
USDA is soliciting comments from any financially interested party. Forward your comments by email to Nate Tickner at email@example.com.
FPPA Offers Scholarship
The Florida Peanut Producers Association will award two $1,200 scholarships to deserving high school seniors and/or college students this year. The applicant or someone in the applicant’s family must be an actively producing peanut grower, although not necessarily a member of the FPPA. It is the intent of the Scholarship Award Committee that the award recipients attend a Florida community or junior college or four-year university.
Each winner will receive $600 when the scholarship winners are announced. The remaining $600 will be awarded after the completion of one semester and documentation of passing grades is submitted to the FPPA Office.
For an application, contact the FPPA office at 2741 Penn Avenue, Suite 1, Marianna, FL 32448, call (850) 526-2590 or print the application off the FPPA Web site www.flpeanuts.com. Scholarship applications must be postmarked no later than July 1, 2012.
Treat White Mold Early In 2012
Bob Kemerait, University of Georgia Extension plant pathologist, recently spoke to producers at the Peanut Seed Short Course, telling them that white mold is the number one disease problem in Georgia. Kemerait explained that white mold is not seedborne, but the fungal disease is a result of environmental conditions – warm soil and a little moisture coupled with oxygen.
Kemerait urged producers to use a recommended, reliable fungicide about 60 days after planting. However, because peanuts were planted earlier and it was a warm spring, producers should begin spraying earlier.
Another recommendation was to be sure to get the fungicide “down into the peanut plant” by either irrigation or just before a rain or by spraying at night. In an overall management program, rotate fields, consider a more resistant variety, apply fungicides during an appropriate window, and, for this year, don’t wait 60 days to spray; start earlier.
Arkansas About 80 Percent Planted
By the first week of May, peanut planting in Arkansas was about 80 percent complete. It was a drastic difference from the first week of May in 2011.
Herb Ginn, University of Arkansas county Extension staff chair, says “This is tremendously different than last year when we still had floodwaters we were contending with.” Peanut acreage in Ginn’s Lawrence County will be close to 5,000 acres, which he says is “a little more than I had expected.”
Travis Faske, UA Extension plant pathologist, says that Arkansas’ peanut acreage is estimated at 18,000 acres, well up from 7,500 acres grown in 2011. Most of the peanut acreage is in Lawrence and Randolph Counties, with 3,000 to 4,000 acres spread among Clay, Lee, Poinsett, Phillips, Mississippi and White Counties.
“We have picked up several new growers this year and a few of our previous growers have increased peanut acres,” Ginn says. “We now have close to 10 growers this year, which is a nice increase from just one grower with 600 acres in 2010.”
Randolph County Extension staff chair Mike Andrews and Clay County Extension agent Ron Baker also saw growth in growers and acres.
“We have a combination of first-time growers and secondyear growers,” Andrews says. “There will be more calls as peanuts emerge and decisions need to be made on weed control, irrigation and fungicide applications.
“We will be watching for insects in the next few weeks as well as weeds.”
For more on peanut production in Arkansas, visit www.arkansascrops.com.
NCIS Unveils Newly Revamped Web Site
National Crop Insurance Services recently unveiled a newly redesigned and revamped Web site that will ensure that policy makers, members of the media and academics are able to easily find and utilize the organization’s many tools and online resources.
The Web site prominently features key farmer, lender and insurance agent testimonials discussing the importance of crop insurance as the principal risk management tool as well as making key articles, magazines and videos accessible.
Also appearing on the site are several installments of a newly released educational video series that explains crop insurance – what it is, how it works and why it has become the risk management tool of choice for America’s farmers.
In the first video, titled “Crop Insurance 101,” Tom Zacharias, NCIS president, explains that crop insurance has evolved as a way to limit taxpayer risk exposure by shifting it to private business. Other videos detailing the importance of crop insurance to agriculture and the role it has played in mitigating the long-term damage to farmers and their livelihoods caused by natural disasters are currently being released.
For more, go to www.cropinsuranceinamerica.org.