News Briefs

2018 Farm Bill Becomes Law

President Donald Trump signed a $428 billion Farm Bill into law Dec. 20. It is entitled, “The Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018.” At the signing ceremony in Washington, D.C., he pledged “through fires, floods and freezing weather, we will always stand with American farmers.”

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue called the bill a Christmas present to American agriculture. He said, “Farmers take financial risks every year as a matter of doing business, so having a Farm Bill in place gives them peace of mind to make their decisions for the future.”

The bill passed the U.S. Senate 87 to 13 on Tues. Dec. 11, and the U.S. House of Representatives followed with a vote of 369 to 47.

• Kept the structure of the conservation stewardship program (CSP), which helps farmers to address soil health, water quality, and other environmental issues on their land, as well as the environmental quality incentives program (EQIP), a voluntary program that incentivizes farmers to implement conservation practices. The agreement also increased the conservation reserve program (CRP) by 3 million acres to 27 million acres.

• The grant program that awards scholarships to students at 1890 land-grant institutions received $40 million in mandatory funding and $40 million in discretionary authorization, it will help young African-Americans pursue a career in agriculture.

• Creates three centers of excellence at 1890 land-grant universities to focus on food security and rural quality of life.

• Increases research into automation and mechanization for fruits and vegetables.

• Includes mandatory funding for the promotion of U.S. agricultural exports, through such programs as the market access program and foreign market development.

• Provides for the availability of marketing agreements and orders for pecans and cherries.

• The agreement does not include work requirements for supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP) recipients. Instead it increases job training opportunities to help people find work.[divider]

Peanut Proud Gives To Food Banks

Gregg Grimsley, president of Peanut Proud, Inc. reports that Peanut Proud, the humanitarian outreach program of the peanut industry, has been extremely busy this year because of two gigantic hurricanes in the heart of Peanut Country. The all-volunteer committee reports delivering 60,480 jars of peanut butter to food banks and distribution centers around Hurricane Florence in North and South Carolina.

After Hurricane Michael destroyed parts of Florida and Georgia, peanut butter delivery totals were 151,200 jars to food banks, FEMA, churches and other locations feeding linemen. Grimsley reported that in 2018, total peanut butter jar deliveries totaled 339,920, a record for the volunteers.

Grimsley noted that the job is not over; 16.2 million children, or one in five, are food insecure nationwide.

To make a gift, send a check to Peanut Proud, P. O. Box 650, Blakely, GA 39823, or give on the website. Only $770 buys l/2 pallet of peanut butter.[divider]

Peanut Proud Festival

peanut proud festival logoCome celebrate all things peanut in Blakely, Georgia, at the annual Peanut Proud Festival held on the town square March 23.

The day-long celebration begins with a 5K and Fun Run and ends with a street dance. In between are a parade, more than 100 vendors, a kids’ peanut butter obstacle course, free entertainment, and much more. Come sample specialty products such as fried peanuts and grilled PB&J sandwiches and visit our Peanut Proud store.

Go to or find us on Facebook for all the details.[divider]

American Peanut Council Realigns

american peanut council logo The American Peanut Council and the APC Export Board are now united under one umbrella for America’s peanut industry. The council has just completed comprehensive strategy plan that should make the council more effective in domestic issues and the lead organization for peanut export promotions. The APC is a voice at the table when peanuts issues are discussed.

APC and Export Division Board members were elected for a two-year term that will not end until December 2019; however, officers for both boards rotate up, and new officers were selected for each. Some changes also occurred to the board rosters:

For the APC Board, officers are Sid Levy, SGL International, Chairman; Monty Rast, South Carolina Peanut Farmers, Vice-Chairman; and John Witiak, Hormel Foods, Secretary/Treasurer. Charles Birdsong will remain on the board for one more year as Past Chairman, and as part of a by-laws change, Nic Melhuish will remain on a larger 7-person Executive Committee as post past Chair.

For APC Export Division board, officers are Bob Sutter, North Carolina Peanut Producers, Chairman; Ravi Prabhakar, Olam, Vice-Chairman; and Mark Kaiser, Alabama Peanut Producers, Secretary/Treasurer. Brent Cuddy of Golden Peanut will remain an officer as past Chair for the year. Six National Peanut Board representatives serve on the Export Division Board and will be named soon.

The new executive committee will include the Chairman of the Export Board, the Chairman of the Foundation, and the Past Chairman of the APC Board for continuity. On the APC board, Clint Piper of Golden Peanut and Tree Nut will replace Greg Mills.[divider]

Selling The Brand To The Consumer

That’s the message from Jen Nolander, Marketing Director for Skippy Peanut Butter, a product of Hormel Foods. Speaking at the American Peanut Council Winter Conference, Jen says Hormel is a global branded food company with 54 percent retail, 28 percent food service and 9 percent deli. The company has the #1 or #2 brand in over 35 categories. Delivering on brand is developed with taste, product consistency, safe product and a fair value. She noted concern about market information that showed snacks nuts down .2 percent and nut spreads down 1.1 percent.

She emphasized that consumers have lots of choices, 40,000 items in a super market or 60,000 products in a Walmart. Another concern was market stagnation as 2 million households failed to buy peanut butter during back to school. She emphasized that creating brand trust is the responsibility of everyone in the peanut industry. She noted that we must work together with consumers as a team to promote brands of peanuts and peanut products.[divider]

Georgia Farmers Gift Food Bank

Georgia Farm Bureau presented the Georgia Food Bank Association a check for $25,600 during the 81st Annual Georgia Farm Bureau Convention, held in December at Jekyll Island. Funds for the donation were raised through Farm Bureau’s “Harvest for All” campaign, which collected donations from county Farm Bureaus and the organization’s state office, as well as the GFB Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee’s “Calf’s Weight in Change” drive held earlier this year.[divider]

‘Shellers Need Fewer Peanuts’

George Lovatt, president of Lovett & Rushing Brokerage talked “Peanuts By The Numbers” during the special commodity session of the Georgia Farm Bureau.

Lovatt said, “I made the point that the price of peanut kernels was indicating to shellers that we’ll need fewer peanuts in the 2019 crop than we handled in 2018. Further reducing harvested acres from the 1,345,500 this year is fraught with risk, with a lot of uncontrollable factors including acres, yields, quality and domestic and export demand. But, so far, the market is urging a cutback.”

He further said, “I estimate that FSIS will grade 2,595,000 tons, but that the carry-out on July 31, 2019, will still likely be near 1.2 million tons. This is due to weak domestic demand and uncertainty with respect to exports. This could change if we see a surge in exports, particularly from China. The recently announced ‘cooling off period’ concerning tariffs is a good sign, but I’m still skeptical that the Chinese will provide much help in this year’s exports.”

Lovatt also added, “Herbert Stein, once chairman of the council of economic advisors under Presidents Nixon and Ford, is famous for saying, ‘If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.’”[divider]

Commission Seats Filled

Three positions on the Georgia Peanut Commission (GPC) Board of Directors were recently filled to represent districts 2, 4 and 5. The terms expired Dec. 31, 2018.

Armond Morris, Rodney Dawson and Donald Chase, incumbents, were the only nominees in District 2, 4 and 5, respectively.

When only one person qualifies for the position, no election is required and the nominated person automatically becomes a member of the Georgia Peanut Commission. Members serve three-year terms.[divider]

Camilla Farmer Named To NPB

casey cox
Casey Cox

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue recently announced the appointment of Casey Cox, Camilla, Georgia, to fill a vacant seat as an alternate on the National Peanut Board. The three-year term began Jan. 1, 2019.

The board is made up of 12 producer members and their alternates. Eleven members and alternates are from the primary peanut producing states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia. An at-large member and alternate represent other peanut producing states.

Since 1966, Congress has authorized 22 industry-funded research and promotion boards to provide a framework for agricultural industries to pool their resources and combine efforts to develop new markets, strengthen existing markets and conduct important research and promotion activities.

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