News Briefs

Farm Bill Provides Stability
The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 passed out of the U.S. Senate by a vote of 87 to 13 and the U.S. House of Representatives with a vote of 369 to 47. At press time, the legislation was awaiting President Trump’s signature.

“We are glad to see that the bill has passed the House and Senate. This is a solid Farm Bill for all segments of the peanut industry and it provides stability to growers planning for the 2019 crop and beyond,” says Armond Morris, a Georgia peanut farmer and chairman of the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation and Georgia Peanut Commission.

“The Conference Committee leadership has worked well together and has delivered this important legislation to the President, and we really appreciate their hard work.”

Chairman Morris continues, “We are also very appreciative of the hard work on the Conference Committee of Congressmen from the Southeast including Austin Scott, David Scott, Rick Allen, Mike Rogers, Neal Dunn and Ted Yoho to preserve the peanut provisions within the farm bill. All of these supporters serve on the U.S. House Agriculture Committee.”

The Southern Peanut Farmers Federation is very pleased with the peanut provisions of the farm bill passed by Congress. The production of peanuts alone contributes approximately $3 billion to the Southeastern economy. This includes thousands of jobs in many rural counties across the Southeast.[divider]

Safety Net Payments Issued

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has announced that USDA continues to invest in rural America with more than $4.8 billion in payments being made to agricultural producers through the Farm Service Agency’s Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC), Price Loss Coverage (PLC) and Conservation Reserve (CRP) programs. Approximately $3 billion in payments will be made under the

ARC and PLC programs for the 2017 crop year, and approximately $1.8 billion in annual rental payments under CRP for 2018.

The ARC and PLC programs were authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill and make up a portion of the agricultural safety net to producers when they experience a substantial drop in revenue or prices for their covered commodities.

PLC payments have been triggered for 2017 barley, canola, corn, grain sorghum, wheat and other crops. In the next few months payments will be triggered for rice, chickpeas, sunflower seeds, flaxseed, mustard seed, rapeseed, safflower, crambe, and sesame seed. USDA will begin issuing 2018 CRP payments to over 362,000 landowners to support voluntary conservation efforts on private lands.

Farms with peanut base are receiving payments caused by low peanut prices for the 2017 peanut crop. USDA declared the average price to be $458 per ton. The Farm Bill provides that the reference price for peanuts is $535 per ton. To obtain the PLC payment amount, deduct the average price from the reference payment yielding the PLC Payment or $77 per ton. The payment is reduced by 6.6 percent for sequestration. The payment applies to only 85 percent of the peanut farm base.

Payments are limited to $125,000 per eligible producer. Payment limitation includes benefits received from peanut market loan gains, loan deficiency payments and ARC/PLC payments for peanuts.[divider]

Peanuts: Food Of The Future

Peanuts are the “Food of the Future.” That’s the message from the National Peanut Board as funded by peanut growers. Some of the facts being promoted include that peanuts are water-efficient, nutrient and energy-dense and environmentally sustainable. Peanuts are the most water-efficient nut requiring 4.8 gallons of water to produce one ounce of peanuts, whereas almonds take 80 gallons of water to produce the same amount.

With 7 grams of protein per serving, peanuts have more protein than any other nut. They contain more than 30 essential vitamins and minerals, and they are fiber and good fats rich. No part of the peanut crop goes wasted: peanut hulls are pelletized and used for animal feed and fuel and peanut vines are used as cattle food and it’s spread across fields to replenish the soil.

Research is still underway exploring the emergent uses for peanut skin which are high in antioxidants and polyphenols.[divider]

U.S., Mexico, Canada Sign New Agreement
The U.S., Mexican and Canadian Presidents recently signed a renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement, taking the three countries closer to preserving virtually tariff-free agriculture trade.

The overhaul of the 24-year-old pact is far from assured because the countries still need to ratify the re-named United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

The fate of the pact is unclear when it comes to the U.S. Congress, where President Donald Trump’s Republican party will no longer control the House in January. While new labor provisions are generally supported by some Democrats, it’s unclear if there will be enough support to ratify the agreement.

The USMCA is also controversial in Canada and Mexico. While the U.S. dairy sector lauded hard-fought provisions to force Canada to end its Class 7 dairy pricing system and increase access to U.S. products, Canadian farmers and some lawmakers there don’t like the agreement.

An analysis by Purdue University shows quotas and other measures built into the trade pact will boost U.S. exports, mainly of dairy and poultry, by about $450 million per year. Canada and Mexico are the two top buyers of U.S. peanuts and key trading partners.[divider]

43rd Georgia Peanut Farm Show Planned

Make plans to attend the 43rd annual Georgia Peanut Farm Show and Conference scheduled for Thurs., Jan. 17, from 8:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. at the University of Georgia Tifton Campus Conference Center in Tifton, Georgia. The one-day show is free and open to all farmers and industry representatives to attend.

Attendees will have the opportunity to visit with more than 100 agribusinesses and organizations in the peanut and agricultural industry. Farmers will be able to earn private and commercial pesticide applicator certification, as well as learn about cutting-edge research and developments during the University of Georgia Peanut Production Seminar and industry-wide sponsored Peanut Seed Seminar.

Farm Show chairman Rodney Dawson is looking forward to the 2019 show and having a large crowd of farmers attend like previous years.

“I encourage farmers to attend this one-day show in Tifton,” he says. “The knowledge they will gain from industry representatives and seminars is an investment in the future of their farm.”

The Georgia Peanut Commission, in cooperation with One-Blood, will host a blood drive from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. At the close of the show, there will be nearly $10,000 in door prizes presented to farmers, as well as a Grand Door Prize, vendor products, certificates and equipment.[divider]

Good News About Peanut Allergies

A new study published in the “New England Journal of Medicine” could lead to therapeutic treatment options for children and adolescents allergic to peanuts.

Brian Vickery, Director, Food Allergy Program, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta led an international Phase 3 clinical trial studying AR101, an investigational medicine developed by Aimmune Therapeutics. The trials show that children and adolescents highly allergic to peanuts who received active treatments of AR101 are able to tolerate higher doses of the allergen and experienced reduced symptom severity during exposure.

The results suggest that the treatment could potentially protect peanut-allergic children from severe reactions due to accidental exposures, which would be life-changing for families. We are excited to be able to conduct research that could one day lead to new treatment options that improve the lives of families dealing with peanut allergies,” says Vickery.[divider]

Texas Harvest Tour Impresses

Texas peanut harvest tourOver two dozen food professionals from varying backgrounds—including dietitians, chefs, college and university dining operators, trade media writers and editors, and consumer-packaged goods representatives—traveled to Texas hill country to learn more about peanut production, processing and culinary uses in regional cuisine. Historic Gruene, Texas, was the site of the National Peanut Board’s fourth annual peanut harvest tour.

“It was interesting to learn about leading peanut purchasers and processors of spreads and confections, as well as new markets (including nut milks),” said Bob Garrison, chief editor of Prepared Foods magazine. “I came in wondering if I’d be able to get enough info related to finished food and beverage processing for my publication…and there was plenty, plus sustainability information.”

Tour attendees began their experience in Pleasanton, Texas, at the farm of father and son Bill and Brett Slomchinski to see how peanuts are grown and learn how they are harvested. The group learned that peanuts are the most sustainable nut thanks to their efficient water use and ability to fix nitrogen.

They were also informed of breeding research that is helping make peanuts even more sustainable and resistant to disease and pests. Peanut allergy information and research were presented to the group by NPB dietitian, Caroline Young, MS, RDN, and President and CEO, Bob Parker.

All of the attendees expressed how much they enjoyed the tour and how impactful it was on their perspective of and appreciation for peanuts. Many also commented that they planned to share the information they learned about peanut sustainability and allergy management with their peers and audiences.

“Most interesting—for my future use—is info about sustainability and water use,” said Garrison. “I’ll be using that info, as well as details on protein, nutrition, allergies and the industry’s proactive work for future content for our publication.”

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