News Briefs

Fewer Peanut Acres Predicted

USDA’s Agricultural Statistics Service issued the first crop acreage estimate late March and predicted peanut acreage to be down 9 percent. According to the report, producers intend to plant 1.48 million acres in 2016 versus last year’s 1.62 million acres. The expected decrease in planted area, per USDA, is largely driven by price concerns due to the large supply of peanuts.

The crop estimate has Georgia peanut farmers dropping 7 percent, Alabama down 15 percent and Florida down 27 percent. For the first time, Arkansas was listed as a major producing state with 18,000 acres. The largest percentage increase was in North Carolina, up 5,000 acres, a 6 percent increase over last year’s 90,000 acres. Texas also showed a major decline, down 40,000 acres or 23 percent.

For other crops, USDA predicted corn growers intend to plant 93.6 million acres, 6 percent more than last year. If realized, this would be the highest planted acreage planted in the U.S. since 2013 and the third largest planted acreage since 1944.

Modernizing The Grading System

T. E. Moye, Georgia Federal State Inspection Service president, recently reported on progress being made on modernizing the peanut inspection system.

The Federal State Inspection Service (FSIS) in Georgia and other states is charged with providing an impartial, efficient and accurate inspection of certain farm crops. In Georgia, more than 35 commodities are inspected, including peanuts, fruits, vegetables and pecans and ensure the shipment of high quality agricultural products.

Moye says, “We are constantly looking for ways to reduce labor during the peanut harvest. Training is also a concern with over 130 peanut buying stations.”

New programs being tested include: (1) The e-Nuts Program – A new peanut load tracking system wherein peanut drying software and tracking will interface with USDA software for receiving and weighing the peanut load. This program will be free to buying points, and some buying points are already using the program.

(2) FSIS is testing an automatic sampler. This new program, which will be tested at Fudge Peanut Co. in Colquitt, Ga., is operated from the grading room. The sampler will be automated in a rotation taking samples 12 inches from trailer sides with normal probe patterns. The goal will be to have samples ready when inspectors arrive.

(3) New peanut grading equipment will be developed in a project that began in April and is slated to end December 2017. In 2017, the goal is to test the equipment in 10 to 20 buying points. The goals are to reduce labor, to improve efficiency and enhance cost effectiveness. Another goal is improve consistency with inspection results.inBriefMay16

Surplus Peanuts Going To Haiti

In an effort to provide a nutritional food to people in need and also use up a surplus of peanuts, USDA has agreed to provide 500 metric tons of packaged, dry-roasted U.S. peanuts to school children in Haiti who are food insecure. This effort stems from the “Stocks for Food” program that first started in late 2007, a joint project between the Farm Service Agency (FSA), Foreign Agricultural Services (FAS) and Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) that transfers surplus commodities in government inventory to feeding programs and food banks both domestically and overseas.

The school feeding project in Haiti, where the United Nations will distribute the peanuts, is funded by the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service through the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program, a worldwide program for school children struggling with poverty, malnutrition and disease. The peanuts will help feed nearly 140,000 malnourished kids for a full school year. Having food available for the kids increases their attendance at school and improves their ability to learn.

SPGC Returns To Florida

The 18th Annual Southern Peanut Growers Conference will be held July 21-23, 2016, at the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, Miramar Beach, Fla. The three-day event provides farmers with information on peanut production, legislative issues, marketing and promotions. In addition to the conference sessions, the event focuses on the family by offering a ladies program and a golf tournament.

For more information, visit the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation website at www.southernpeanutfarmers.org.

GPC Increases Research Funding

The Georgia Peanut Commission (GPC) board of directors has approved $423,036 in research project funding for the 2016-17 budget year. The research projects approved include 30 project proposals submitted from the University of Georgia and USDA Agricultural Research Service.

“We are proud of our close relationship and partnership with research institutions in the state,” says Donald Chase, GPC Research Committee chairman. “Peanut growers are pleased to invest in the future by providing monetary support for research and education that has continued to demonstrate a return on our investment.”

The research programs primarily focus on peanut breeding for higher yield and improved quality; economics; conservation methods; irrigation and water management; pests, weed and disease management; and peanut allergy research.

Georgia’s peanut growers invest $2 per ton annually toward GPC programs, which includes research, promotion and education. Research comprises 22 percent of available funds in the commission’s budget.

For a complete list of the research projects funded by the GPC, visit www.gapeanuts.com.

CCC Calling For Exchange

The Commodity Credit Corporation is looking to exchange 15,997 tons of Virginias, runners and Spanish peanuts from the 2014 crop for up to 2,216,160 pounds of commercial peanut butter.

The peanut butter will be in 12/18 ounce containers, produced and packaged in accordance with USDA specification and destined for various locations. CCC does not guarantee the quality of the peanuts that will be loaded out.

Warehouse operators are obligated to deliver the total CCC receipt value of peanuts represented on the warehouse receipt based on receipt factors. CCC will not pay load out charges. The contractor will be responsible for any fees that apply.

All costs for transportation/manufacturing/handling of peanut butter from the contractor’s plant to the final destination are for the contractor’s account. Commercial peanut butter shall be delivered between June 16, 2016 and June 30, 2016. For information, contact Lisa Edie at lisa.edie@kcc.usda.gov.

Sunbelt Expo Field Day Announced

Research, innovation and education — three words that describe what farmers will find at the Sunbelt Ag Expo Field Day. The annual half-day free educational event will be held July 14, in Moultrie, Ga., and is open to anyone  involved in agriculture and agribusiness.

Touring the Darrell Williams Research Farm on covered trams, participants will see the latest research in the growing stages. Industry representatives and university researchers will give up-to-date information on topics such as new seed varieties, irrigation, crop protection, soil fertility, forages and precision agriculture. Field Day is also the opportunity to see what will be harvested at the 39th Annual Sunbelt Expo, Oct. 18 – 20.

In addition to the field tours there will be static exhibits from various equipment manufacturers and allied industry partners. Registration and static exhibits open at 7:15 a.m. and a complimentary biscuit breakfast will be offered. Trams will depart for the field tours at 8:00 a.m. and will return by noon when a barbecue sack lunch will be served. Participants can also register for door prizes.

CalendarMay2016PB Part Of Healthy Snacking

The Peanut Institute recently reported on a new study that shows high-risk adolescents who consistently consumed a daily snack of peanuts or peanut butter significantly decreased their Body Mass Index (BMI) over a 6-month period. The study, “Benefits of a snacking intervention as part of a school-based obesity intervention for Mexican American children,” was published in the Journal of Applied Research on Children.

The randomized study followed a group of 257 Latino adolescents who were overweight and obese. Despite being at very high risk, the children who ate the peanut and peanut butter snacks more than four times a week showed better results than those that ate them less than once a week or not at all. The average age was 12 years old and both boys and girls showed similar benefits.

Dr. Craig Johnston, principal investigator at the University of Houston, said, “We have shown that schools, aftercare programs and parents can easily replace unhealthy snacks with peanuts or peanut butter and it works on many different levels.”

According to USDA, about one quarter or more of our daily calories comes from snacks, about the same as calories from lunch. Therefore, it is important to make sure those calories reduce hunger and provide essential nutrients to maintain a healthy weight.

The Peanut Institute is a non-profit organization that supports nutrition research and develops educational programs to encourage healthful lifestyles that include peanuts and peanut products. For more information, go to www.peanut-institute.org.

Georgia Farmer of the Year

For John McCormick, farming is a tradition. His ability to help his farm evolve over the years earned him the title of “Georgia Farmer of the Year.”

MarketWatchMay16-2The Screven County peanut, corn and soybean farmer was honored by Gov. Nathan Deal on Ag Awareness Day at the Georgia Capitol in April. McCormick will represent Georgia at the Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie, Ga., in October, when the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year award is presented.

Ray Hicks, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension coordinator for Screven County, nominated McCormick, who pioneered the use of new technologies, like GPS-guided machinery and variable-rate irrigation, in southeast Georgia.

“He is a very diversified farmer who has used modern technology to help improve the profitability and sustainability of this farm. (He’s used) variable-rate irrigation and GPS on his tractor and has adopted conservation tillage on his land,” Hicks said.

Beginning as a young boy in 4-H, McCormick learned to love the experimental nature of farming, and over his 42-year career, he has never stopped experimenting and trying to make his operation better. Over those years, he has also been able to change directions when parts of the farming business no longer made sense.

Mark McCann, UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences assistant dean for Extension, said, “Helping your farm evolve doesn’t just mean taking on the newest technology and techniques; it’s also the ability to let things go.

“People sometimes have a harder time with that than with adopting the new stuff. The thing about John is that he hasn’t allowed himself to be tied down. It’s not always been about the adoption of new technology, but it’s about the strategy of how he defines his farm.”

McCormick’s focus is to improve efficiency and sustainability and leave his land in better shape than it was when he bought it. He works to reduce erosion, improve soil health and use the latest, best management practices that are available and applicable.

McCormick says, “Due to ongoing research, the goals have evolved through the years and will continue to change as research unveils new ways to improve soil health and produce more crops with higher yields on less acreage.”