News Briefs

Purchasing Commodity Certificates

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced that producers who have crops pledged as collateral for a marketing assistance loan can now purchase a commodity certificate that may be exchanged for the outstanding loan collateral. The authority is provided by the 2016 Consolidated Appropriations Act, legislation enacted by Congress in December. Commodity certificates are available beginning with the 2015 crop in situations where the applicable marketing assistance loan rate exceeds the exchange rate. Currently, the only eligible commodity is cotton.

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) routinely provides agricultural producers with marketing assistance loans that provide interim cash flow without having to sell the commodities when market prices are at harvest-time lows. The loans allow the producer to delay the sale of the commodity until more favorable market conditions emerge, while also providing for a more orderly marketing of commodities throughout the marketing year.

These loans are considered “nonrecourse” because they can be redeemed by delivering the commodity pledged as collateral to the government as full payment for the loan upon maturity.

Commodity certificates are available to loan holders having outstanding nonrecourse loans for wheat, upland cotton, rice, feed grains, pulse crops (dry peas, lentils, large and small chickpeas), peanuts, wool, soybeans and designated minor oilseeds. These certificates can be purchased at the posted county price, or adjusted world price or national posted price, for the quantity of commodity under loan and must be immediately exchanged for the collateral, satisfying the loan.

Producers may contact their FSA office or their loan service agent for additional information. Producers who do business with Cooperative Marketing Associations (CMA) or Designated Marketing Associations (DMA) may contact their respective associations for additional information. To learn more about commodity certificates, visit www.fsa.usda.gov/pricesupport or contact your local FSA office.

Peanut Standards Get A Facelift

Pursuant to recommendations by the Peanut Standards Board, the Agricultural Marketing Service has proposed changes in the peanut standards. The changes fall into two categories: Regulations that need to be brought up-to-date and eliminate unnecessary procedures and paperwork. Many of these regulations date back to the 60s and 70s.

NB-March2016Secondly, because peanut varieties have been developed with larger-sized kernels, it was felt that the amount of damage allowed in outgoing quality standards was not sufficient. The Peanut Standards Board has proposed raising it to 3.5 percent. The change consolidates minor and major damage into one category of damage.

The Board believes these changes would make additional peanuts available for sale, help increase efficiencies and reduce costs to the industry. Explanations of these proposed changes can be found in the Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016 issue of the “Federal Register.”
Comments may be made on the proposed changes until March 21, 2016. All comments submitted will be available to the public. Send comments to www.regulations.gov and make reference to the document number.

According to USDA, there are approximately 7,500 peanut producers, 65 handlers operating 70 shelling plants and 25 importers subject to regulations. Other groups that must comply with peanut standards are 10 custom blanchers, four custom re-millers, three oil mill operators and one USDA and 17 USDA-approved chemical (aflatoxin) labs. For information, email Jennie Varela at Jennie.Varela@ams.usda.gov.

Long To Head GFB

Gerald Long, of Bainbridge, Ga., is the new president of Georgia Farm Bureau (GFB), the state’s largest general agriculture organization. Long, who has served as GFB first vice president since 2008, succeeds Duvall who was elected AFBF president.

Long assumed the responsibilities of GFB president effective Jan. 12. He will serve until Dec. 6, 2016, at which time GFB members will elect the next president during their annual convention. Long is eligible to run for the position if he chooses.

Long is a diversified farmer who raises cattle and grows peanuts, vegetables, corn, cotton, hay, small grains and timber with his family on their farm near Bainbridge. He was first elected to the GFB Board of Directors in December 1999 as ninth district director representing 14 counties in Southwest Georgia. He has been elected to serve as GFB first vice president each year since 2008.

Long and his wife, Janice, have three children and two grandchildren.

Harden To Leave USDA

USDA Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden announced her plans to leave at the end of February 2016. Harden is the daughter of a South Georgia peanut farmer.

NBCalendar3-2016“My work at USDA on behalf of our farmers, ranchers, producers and rural communities has been the greatest honor of my professional life,” she said.

UGA’s Ag Forecast

UGA Extension economist, Don Shurley, recently provided an outlook on the state’s major row crops. Shurley said the state’s cotton farmers are facing serious issues with cotton hovering around 60 cents per pound in recent months. He suggested waiting for prices in the 68-70 cents per-pound range before signing contracts.

Shurley said domestic demand for corn is expected to grow despite a leveling off of use for ethanol, because of increasing livestock herds, feed demand will increase.

He predicted peanut prices in the $375-$385 per-ton range with Virginia peanuts possibly as high as $425 per ton. His estimate for Georgia cotton acres in 2016 is 1.2 million.

“I got cotton acreage going up but that’s dependent on one thing and one thing only, and that is if that peanut number comes down. If that peanut number stays up close to 800,000, and we plant the same amount of peanuts as we did last year, then all bets are off. The cotton number can’t be 1.2 million,” he said.

Cottonseed Not An Oilseed

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said that USDA lawyers have determined the department does not have the authority to declare cottonseed an oilseed as the cotton industry had asked. He said Congress would have to find $1 billion over 10 years for the subsidies related to declaring cottonseed an oilseed.

Rep. Collin Peterson, House ranking member said he recognizes that cotton farmers are in financial trouble, but that the cotton industry did get what it asked for in the Farm Bill – the STAX crop insurance program. The National Cotton Council said it would continue to work on the issue.

Farm Show Recognizes Top Farmers

More than 1,400 people attended the 40th Annual Georgia Peanut Farm Show and Conference in January at the University of Georgia Tifton Campus Conference Center. The show was sponsored by the Georgia Peanut Commission in cooperation with the University of Georgia Tifton Campus and the Southeastern Peanut Farmer.

During the luncheon, the Georgia Peanut Commission presented awards as follows: Distinguished Service Award – Jerry Chandler, CEO of McCleskey Mills; Research and Education Award – Nathan Smith, former UGA Extension peanut economist who is now at Clemson University; Export Award – Stephanie Grunenfelder, senior vice president of American Peanut Council; Media Award – The Cairo Messenger and Sam Smith, retired photographer with WALB; Special Award – Zippy Duvall, American Farm Bureau president.

The Outstanding Georgia Young Peanut Farmer Award was presented to Trey Dunaway of Hawkinsville, Ga. The commission and Agri Supply presented the Outstanding Georgia Peanut Farmers of the Year Award to five producers representing each of the commission’s five districts: District 1 – Louie Grimes, Colquitt; District 2 – Wavell Robinson, Pavo; District 3 – Jimmy Dixon, Girard; District 4 – Sam Floyd, Danville; and District 5 – Wilbur Gamble, Dawson.

The Grand Door Prize, donated by Kelley Manufacturing Co. was presented to Caleb Brown of Abbeville, Ga. Brown received one season’s use of a new six-row KMC peanut combine and the option of purchasing the combine from a KMC dealer with $15,000 off the list price at the end of the 2016 season. KMC also provided $1,000 cash as part of the Grand Door Prize package to William Cape of Eastman, Ga.

Amadas Industries provided a Grower Door Prize of one season’s use of a new Amadas four-row or six-row peanut inverter or a certificate good for the amount of $5,000 towards the purchase of any Amadas pull-type peanut combine to Wayne Sayer of Wray, Ga.