Thursday, September 29, 2022

News Briefs

Going After Aflatoxin

Aspergillus flavus presents a significant threat to the U.S. peanut industry. The expression of A. flavus, aflatoxin, impacts every aspect of the peanut supply chain. Even in a low-aflatoxin year, such as 2020, costs range into the millions. Soil temperature seems to drive mold production.

Premium Peanut’s Karl Zimmer, chairman of the aflatoxin taskforce, says, “In a year where aflatoxin is more prevalent, the costs run to more than $100 million or $30 per ton. The challenge every year is the impact to the U. S. peanut industry’s ability to compete internationally. A. flavus is driving the three-year trend of lower prices for exported peanuts.”

More than 80 peanut industry members attended the Peanut Quality Symposium in Tifton, Georgia. The purpose of the meeting was to coordinate and collaborate research and innovation efforts as it relates to aflatoxin. The symposium provided a forum to learn from other industries and brainstorm new research solutions throughout the peanut supply chain. Another goal was to develop research priorities through participant feedback for improving U.S. peanut quality. 

National Peanut Research Lab research leader Marshall Lamb examined the economic impact of alfatoxin in 2017-2019. The biggest disaster year for aflatoxin, 2019, cost the industry more than $126 million, $90.86 per acre or $46.68 per ton. 

The Almond Board of California’s vice president, global technical and regulatory affairs, Julie Adams, explained how they united under a federal marketing order with a 3 cent assessment to develop a program now recognized in trade negotiations and with regulatory agencies around the world. 

Dave Hoisington, director of the USAID Feed The Future Innovation Lab, says, “Peanut is a global brand with an aflatoxin problem.” 

Hoisington encouraged the industry to protect the brand with research, to address the health concerns with nutritional studies and to advocate for science-based limits.


EU, US Reach Trade Truce 

The United States and the European Union have reached a truce on steel and aluminum that will remove tariffs on more than $10 billion in exports each year. Negotiators worked to balance market demands and climate change, U.S. officials say.

The two sides were working to reach a deal before Dec. 1, when the EU’s tariffs were set to double. The 25% tariff will apply to EU exports beyond 3.3 million tons, according to two people familiar with the talks.

“We’ve reached an agreement with the EU that maintains tariffs but allows limited volumes of steel and aluminum to enter the U.S. tariff-free,” says U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo. “It was a successful negotiation, and we agreed on a way forward to face our shared challenge, which is global excess capacity mainly by China.”

American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall says, “While the dispute centered around steel and aluminum, farmers were swept up in the turmoil as the EU clamped down on U.S. agricultural exports like orange juice, butter, cheese, pork, nuts and more. It’s crucial that we work to restore those trade relationships.

“As we continue to recover from the impact of the global pandemic, America’s farmers need the stability and predictability of strong trade agreements to grow exports and provide healthy, affordable food to our international neighbors.”


Export Promotion Funds

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service has awarded funding to more than 60 U.S. agricultural organizations to help expand export markets. The American Peanut Council will receive $2.6 million from the Market Access Program and $585,000 for foreign market development for a total of $3.2 million.

“The programs benefit producers by building markets for a wide variety of U.S. farm and food products around the globe,” says FAS administrator Daniel Whitley. “These programs play a significant role in supporting the U.S. agricultural industry that achieved record exports in 2021 and is projected to do even better in 2022. Increased exports are critical to expand farm incomes, improve the economic health of rural communities and ensure nutritional security here at home and overseas.”

Preference is given to organizations that represent an entire industry or are nationwide in membership and scope. The organizations, which contribute on average more than $2.50 for every $1 in federal funding received through the program, will conduct activities that help maintain or increase demand for U.S. agricultural commodities overseas.


APGG Expands Operations

American Peanut Growers Group will invest $85 million to expand operations, creating 90 jobs. In addition to expanding its current Donalsonville, Georgia, shelling plant, APGG will open a new food processing facility on its 45-acre Seminole County site.

APGG processes approximately 200,000 tons of peanuts per year. The company plans to build an additional 135,000-square-foot facility. This will encompass the new food processing operations, enabling APGG to manufacture peanut paste, granules, peanut butter and roasted peanuts for customers. The company will also invest in additional shelling equipment as it expands those operations.

“We are excited about this project and the opportunities it will provide for economic growth in Southwest Georgia. Per capita, peanut consumption has risen to an all-time high, which presents an ideal situation allowing us to further drive value through the industry’s supply chain,” says Jeremy Mayes, APGG general manager for ingredients. “We are thankful for our farmer-owners demonstrating their willingness to invest in the project and community. Likewise, the support of city and county officials, as well as local industries such as LMC, has allowed us to move quickly on our infrastructure needs.”

The company will begin hiring in June for careers in production, management and maintenance.


NPB Targets Peanut Allergy

Although only 1% to 2% of the population is estimated to have peanut allergy, the National Peanut Board has continued to invest heavily in this area to find solutions. 

Since 2001, NPB has allocated more than $35 million to food allergy research, education and outreach. At the end of 2020, the U.S. departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services released their Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which for the first time included a section on infants and young children. 

The guidelines recommend introducing peanut foods as early as four to six months to help prevent peanut allergy. NPB continues to advocate for awareness and adherence to the guidelines with pediatricians and other health professionals and supports the American Academy of Pediatrics continuing education course on early introduction of peanut foods. 


Buying Points Plan S.C. Meeting 

The National Peanut Buying Points Association 2022 annual winter conference is scheduled to be back in person this year. The conference will be Feb. 11-14 at the Emeline Hotel in downtown Charleston, South Carolina.

The association is excited to be back with our friends and peanut family. Charleston is always a favorite, with plenty to do, from scenic carriage rides to historic tours, plus all kinds of shopping. The schedule includes two receptions, two general sessions, a prayer breakfast with awards and the Great Cash Giveaway. Exhibit space is limited. Room and registration information is available at www.peanutbuyingpoints.org.


Two-Day Farm Show Planned

Make plans to attend the 45th annual Georgia Peanut Farm Show and Conference scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, Jan. 19-20, at the University of Georgia Conference Center in Tifton, Georgia. The show will be open Wednesday 1 to 5 p.m. and Thursday 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The two-day show is free to all farmers and industry representatives. 

Attendees will have the opportunity to visit with nearly 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 during the University of Georgia peanut production seminar and industry-wide sponsored peanut seed seminar.

Farm Show chairman Rodney Dawson says, “I encourage farmers to attend this two-day show in Tifton. 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 OneBlood, will host a blood drive from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 20. At the close of Thursday, there will be nearly $10,000 in door prizes presented to farmers, as well as a grand door prize, vendor products, certificates and equipment.

For more information on the show, contact the Georgia Peanut Commission office at 229-386-3470 or visit www.gapeanuts.com.


Smuckers Plans Alabama Factory 

The J.M. Smucker Co. recently announced plans to build a new manufacturing facility and distribution center in Alabama to support production of Smucker’s Uncrustables. The project offers large-scale job creation in the Birmingham area. With a total financial investment of $1.1 billion, the facility in the McCalla community is expected to be constructed over three phases creating up to 750 jobs.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey says, “Because The J.M Smucker Co. is one of America’s leading consumer packaged-goods companies in the food sector, its decision to make a significant investment in Jefferson County represents a powerful endorsement of Alabama’s inviting business environment. Not only will the company’s growth project create a large number of jobs in McCalla, it will also permit us to build a longstanding relationship with a top consumer brand.

“Our Smucker’s Uncrustables brand continues to be one of the fastest growing in our portfolio and in the food sector more broadly. We are proud of the success the brand has achieved, due in no small part to the tremendous efforts of our employees. We’re excited to take advantage of the opportunities and growth our investments will enable,” says Mark Smucker, president and CEO. “We appreciate the support we have received from the state of Alabama and Jefferson County officials, and we look forward to being a part of the Birmingham community.” 

Construction is expected to begin in January. The company plans to more than double production in the next five years. 


Outstanding Alumni List Includes Peanut Co. 

Ken and Brad Hardy pose side-by-side in front of Hardy Farm's peanut stand, toting bushels of boiling peanuts.
Cousins Ken (left) and Brad (right) Hardy, of Hardy Peanuts in Hawkinsville, GA at a Hardy Peanut stand.

Nine University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences alumni businesses were included in the 2022 Bulldog 100, a list that celebrates the 100 fastest-growing organizations owned or operated by UGA alumni. Cousins Brad and Ken Hardy, CAES alumni, are partners in Hardy Peanuts Inc., the company founded by their fathers.

Hardy’s Peanuts Inc. produces homegrown fresh green and boiled peanuts. Hardy’s peanuts can be found in grocery stores throughout the Southeast, and their roasted peanuts are sold to candy companies all over the world.

Those selected by the UGA Alumni Association for the annual list embody the best of UGA as they are leading the way in business and building better communities.

“These alumni demonstrate the value of a degree from UGA, and we are proud to recognize them for all they have achieved as leaders and entrepreneurs,” says Meredith Gurley Johnson, executive director of the UGA Alumni Association. “These individuals serve as an example to current and future alumni of what is possible when tenacity and innovation are utilized to provide better solutions and build stronger communities. We are excited to engage these alumni with the university to continue to inspire leadership among our community.”

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