News Briefs

Georgia’s Perdue Selected Ag Sec.
U.S. President Donald J. Trump has selected Sonny Perdue, the former governor of Georgia, to be Secretary of Agriculture. Perdue is a lifelong farmer. He graduated from Warner Robins High School and earned a doctorate in veterinary medicine in 1971 from the University of Georgia.

Following his service as a Captain in the United States Air Force, Perdue became a successful small business owner, concentrating in agribusiness and transportation. Today, those businesses have grown to include several locations across the Southeast.

He ran for the Georgia State Senate in 1990 and won. Sonny spent the next 11 years representing his mid-Georgia district in the General Assembly. Perdue left the State Senate in 2001 to begin his successful campaign for Governor, which focused on restoring public trust in state government and empowering all Georgians. As a state senator, he was often praised for tackling issues when no one else had the courage to do so and for his ability to grasp the nuances of complex problems.

For all of his success in business and public service, Governor Perdue is proudest to serve as devoted husband, loving father and grandfather. Perdue is married to the former Mary Ruff of Atlanta. The couple has four children and eleven grandchildren and has also served as foster parents at times.

UGA Ag Forecast
University of Georgia economists gave farmers and agricultural stakeholders a peek into what’s expected for the 2017 crop year at a recent series of forecast meetings. UGA ag economist Adam Rabinowitz provided the outlook on the state’s major row crops.

On peanuts, he says lower prices on other commodities combined with PLC payments will keep peanut acres high. However, lack of rotation will increase disease pressure, thereby increasing production costs and reducing yield.

On cotton, Rabinowitz says there could be some marketing opportunities above 70 cents for 2016. Irrigated production appears to favor peanuts and cotton followed by soybeans and corn.

He urges producers to place priority on crop rotation when net returns are comparable among crops. Cotton and peanut acres are likely to increase in 2017. Soybean acres will likely remain stable. Corn and wheat acres are likely to decrease because of price.

Morris Remains GPC Chairman
Armond Morris, peanut farmer from Ocilla, was again elected chairman of the Georgia Peanut Commission in February. This is Morris’ sixteenth term as chairman. He also served as chairman in 1996, 1997 and 2003.

“It is a pleasure to serve peanut producers in Georgia,” Morris says. “As farm income has declined, the next Farm Bill will be even more important. We are excited to have national leaders like future Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue, and American Farm Bureau president Zippy Duvall, who understand the importance of agriculture to the rural economy.”

Other officers elected include Joe Boddiford, Sylvania, vice chairman, and Rodney Dawson, Hawkinsville, treasurer. Board members Tim Burch, Newton, and Donald Chase, Oglethorpe, represent District 1 and District 5, respectively.

NPB Elects Officers

The National Peanut Board elected the following officers: Greg Gill, (Ark.), vice-chairman; Ed White (Ala.), chairman; Peter Froese Jr. (Texas), secretary; and Dan Ward, (N.C.), treasurer. Officers will serve one-year terms beginning Jan. 1.

“It’s quite an honor that my fellow board members had enough faith in me to elect me as chairman,” said White. “I look forward to playing a key role in advancing the board’s mission of improving grower economics through funding compelling research and increasing consumer consumption of peanuts.”
USDA officially instated new and reappointed board members and alternates, who began three-year terms

Jan. 1. Those sworn in were Greg Gill, (Ark.), Jim Chandler (N.M.) and Les Crall (Okla.).  Alternates sworn in were Greg Baltz (Ark.), Karen Jackson, (N.M.) and Gayle White (Okla.), who was NPB’s immediate past-chairman.

The NPB also thanks outgoing board member Wayne Baker, (N.M.) for his years of service to the industry.

Farm Show Award Winners
More than 1,400 producers attended the 41st annual Georgia Peanut Farm Show and Conference in January, at the University of Georgia Tifton Campus Conference Center in Tifton. The show is sponsored by the Georgia Peanut Commission.

Producers were able to view the products and services of more than 110 exhibitors, and the University of Georgia Peanut Team presented a seminar on advanced irrigation management, and a seed seminar on varieties available for 2017.

Awards presented by the Georgia Peanut Commission were as follows:

  • Distinguished Service Award – Gov. Nathan Deal
  • Research and Education Award – Jere W. Morehead, president of the University of Georgia
  • Promotion Award – The Kroger Company
  • Media Award – RFD-TV
  • Georgia Peanut Special Award – John Harrell, past chairman of the National Peanut Board, and Don McGough, director of the commodities/marketing, Georgia Farm Bureau.
    Kelley Manufacturing Co. was recognized for 50 years in the peanut industry.
  • The Outstanding Georgia Young Peanut Farmer Award, sponsored by the GPC and BASF, was presented to Brandon Branch of Baxley. Branch operates a 1,500-acre diversified row crop operation including peanuts, cotton, corn, soybeans and wheat, as well as a custom harvesting enterprise. Branch receives a sign to display at his farm and a trip to the Southern Peanut Growers Conference in July.
  • The GPC and Agri Supply presented the Outstanding Georgia Peanut Farmers of the Year Award to the following:
    District 1 – John Bridges Sr., Brinson
    District 2 – Kenneth Hall Sr., Tifton
    District 3 – Rep. Jon Burns, Newington
    District 4 – Richard Nutt, Pitts
    District 5 – Glen Lee Chase, Oglethorpe
    These farmers received a sign and a $100 gift card from Agri Supply.
  • The Grand Door Prize package donated by Kelley Manufacturing Co. was presented to Aaron Cosby of Smithville and Alex Hardy of Hawkinsville. Cosby received one season’s use of a new six-row KMC peanut combine and Hardy received one season’s use of a new digger shaker inverter. Both have options to purchase the equipment at a reduced price.
  • Amadas Industries’ Grower Door Prize went to Al Rowland of Wrightsville. Rowland received one season’s use of a new Amadas four-row or six-row peanut digger or a certificate good for the amount of $10,000 towards the purchase of a new Amadas self-propelled combine or $5,000 towards the purchase of any new Amadas pull-type peanut combine.

New NCC Chairman Also a Peanut Producer
Ronnie Lee, from Bronwood, Ga., was recently elected National Cotton Council chairman for 2017. Lee is managing partner of Lee Farms and raises cotton, corn, peanuts, small grains, hay, pecans and cattle in Terrell, Lee, and Sumter counties. He owns and operates McCleskey Cotton Company, a ginning and warehousing operation in Bronwood and Albany.

Prior to focusing on some of his other businesses, including RCL Flying Service; LGT LLC; McCleskey Saw and Machine Co., LLC; and Adela Logistics, he was a vice president with McCleskey Mills, Inc., a peanut shelling company in Smithville.

Lee has been a NCC producer delegate since 2003 and served on the NCC’s Board of Directors in 2015. He currently is a director of Cotton Incorporated.

Lee is a past president and chairman of Southern Cotton Growers. From 2005 through 2013, he served on the Farm Services Agency Georgia State Committee as a committee member and later as its chairman. He also has served on the boards of the National Peanut Buying Points Association and the American Peanut Shellers Association.

Lee’s three sons, Ron, Chandler, and Neil, are all actively involved in the family businesses.

West Of West Texas Tour
Building on the success of the 2016 Texas Peanut Producers Board (TPPB) West of West Texas Tour, plans have already begun for the 2017 event. The tour gives manufacturers the opportunity to get to know farmers who grow the peanuts used in their products.

“Many of these manufacturers have never seen a peanut field, much less witnessed harvest,” Shelly Nutt, TPPB executive director said. “It’s important for them to know where their ingredients come from to ensure they are using the best, highest quality peanuts available, as well as see the effort it takes our farmers to produce this valuable crop.”

The tour consists of visiting peanut farms in West Texas of all varieties of peanuts. The event will allow manufactures to see the hard work of peanut farmers and what it takes to get peanuts from the field to their product. Establishing connections from farmer to consumer is the goal of this event.

For more information on the tour, contact Shelly Nutt at or 806-687-6363.

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