News Briefs

Slow Progress On Farm Bill
Senate Ag Committee Chairwoman, Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and House Ag Chairman, Frank Lucas (R-OK), have said they would like to move versions of the Farm Bill this spring. In discussions, the sticking points are the commodity and nutrition programs.

Sen. Stabenow says that the ag committee is having difficulties in finding agreement on the commodity programs and possible cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to achieve at least $23 billion in savings. She wants a bill that gets a bipartisan vote moving out of committee.

Last year, the Senate Ag Committee did not include a target-price program in its version of the Farm Bill, but opted for a revenue-assurance program that the Congressional Budget Office now says would be more costly than expected. This change may cause the Senate to move in the direction of a target-price program if it’s viewed as a more affordable option. Without the target-price program, several southern senators voted against the bill.

Sen. Stabenow says there is a shift in farm policy and philosophy to eliminate the $5 billion or so in direct payments and protect crop insurance where “farmers have skin in the game.”

House Ag Committee Ranking Member, Collin Peterson (D-MN), said he would like House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to come to terms on an acceptable dollar figure in savings for the committees to achieve.

Armond Morris, Chairman of the Georgia Peanut Commission said, “After a recent trip to Washington D.C., I see more optimism than last year, but tough negotiating remains.”

2013 Acreage Estimate Down 27 Percent
Peanut growers intend to plant 1.19 million acres in 2013, down 27 percent from the previous year’s 1,638,000 acres, according to USDA’s Ag Statistics Service. The expected decrease in planted area is largely driven by lower peanut prices and high supply.

USDA reports that last year growers increased peanut acres in many states due to higher prices. In Georgia, the largest peanut-producing state, expected planted area is down 35 percent from 2012.

Alabama, the second largest peanut producing state, expects to decrease acres by 32 percent from 220,000 acres to 150,000 acres. Florida’s decline is predicted down only 10 percent. Mississippi peanut growers were predicted to drop 58 percent from 52,000 acres to 22,000 acres. The only peanut state likely to maintain acres is Oklahoma with 24,000 acres, same as last year.

Corn growers intend to plant 97.3 million acres, up slightly from last year and six percent higher than 2011, the highest acres since 1936.

Cotton farmers intend to plant 10 million acres, 19 percent below last year. Soybean acreage is estimated at 77.1 million acres, down slightly from last year but the fourth highest on record. Wheat is estimated at 56.4 million acres, up one percent from 2012.

GAFSIS To Build New Facility In Albany
The Georgia Federal-State Shipping Point Inspection Service will move its Albany, Ga. operation from Slappey Boulevard in to the Pecan Grove Corporate Park. The Albany Development Authority has approved the sale of around eight acres of land to the agriculture inspection service.

The company looked around Southwest Georgia for a new location before settling on land at the Newton Road industrial park, according to Albany- Dougherty Economic Development Commission Vice President, Justin Strickland. They decided that since most of their 35 employees live in Albany, it would be more convenient to keep the business in that area.

Georgia Federal-State Shipping Point Inspection Service, in addition to maintaining its operations in Dougherty County, will bring as many as 1,400 employees a year to the new facility for training. It has preliminary plans to build a 22,453-square-foot facility on the property, which was being sold for $15,000 an acre.

GAFSIS provides an honest, impartial, efficient and accurate service to the members of the agricultural industry. They inspect more than 35 commodities, including peanuts, fruits and vegetables, and pecans. The use of the inspection service ensures the shipment of high quality produce and agricultural products.

GPC Increases Research Investment
The Georgia Peanut Commission (GPC) board of directors has approved $292,500 in new research project funding for the 2013-14 research budget year. This action was taken during the commission’s March board meeting. The research projects approved include 24 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. Due to the tremendous success enjoyed by Georgia peanut farmers in 2012, we were able to increase research funding in 2013.”

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

“The importance of peanut producers’ investments in research cannot be underestimated,” says Emory Murphy, GPC Research Committee secretary. Murphy noted that peanut research and extension programs have contributed to five consecutive state record yields. “Cultivars planted by growers today are producing 1,000 pounds per acre more than the cultivars they were growing five or six years ago,” Murphy says. “We have also seen the state record increase 1,000 pounds per acre in just one year.”

“This is a testament to our research, education efforts and our growers,” Chase says. “These new higher yielding and disease resistant varieties we are developing are available to all the other states, but Georgia farmers simply do an excellent job of controlling weeds, pests, and diseases, and managing cultural practices and resources.”

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 allergen-free peanuts. However, GPC is also funding research focusing on the development and evaluation of new cultivars with an emphasis on disease resistance genetic markers, using long range internet connectivity to improve management on the farm, and incorporating probiotics into peanut food products.

Chase says the industry must continue to press for public or government support because thirteen peanut scientists have been lost in Georgia over the past ten years and many of those have not been replaced. The GPC requested funding from the Georgia Legislature in 2012 for a state research entomologist since the position has been vacant for a number of years and farmers were having an increased amount of insect damage to their peanut crop.

“We applaud the state Legislature for funding the position and the University of Georgia for filling this critical research position,” Chase says.

For additional information and a complete list of the research projects funded visit

NPB Approves 2013 Research Projects
The National Peanut Board has unanimously approved production research projects submitted by the state peanut producer organizations and the University of Arkansas. Funding production research to make America’s peanut farmers more competitive is a core part of the board’s mission.

Representatives from state grower organizations made presentations to the Board and all 49 projects were approved. The majority of projects investigate the challenges of disease control, pest management and drought tolerance, although other projects include proposals addressing a broad range of relevant concerns to the grower. The board’s total allocation for FY-13 production research funding exceeds $1.5 million.

CRP General Sign-Up Begins In May
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will conduct a four-week general sign-up for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), beginning May 20 and ending on June 14.

“Last year, during one of the worst droughts in generations, the CRP proved vital in protecting our most environmentally sensitive lands from erosion. Emergency haying and grazing on CRP lands also supplied critical feed and forage for livestock producers due to the drought. And the program continues to bring substantial returns to rural areas, attracting recreation and tourism dollars into local economies while sustaining natural and wildlife habitat for future generations,” says Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

Currently, about 27 million acres are enrolled in CRP, which is a voluntary program available to agricultural producers to help them safeguard environmentally sensitive land. Producers enrolled in CRP plant long-term, resourceconserving covers to improve the quality of water, control soil erosion and enhance wildlife habitat. Contracts on 3.3 million acres of CRP are set to expire on Sept. 30, 2013. Producers with expiring contracts or producers with environmentally sensitive land are encouraged to evaluate their options under CRP.

For more information on CRP and other FSA programs, visit a local FSA service center or

UF Weed Researchers Recognized
The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences weed science researchers work hard to promote integrated weed management, through the use of scouting, prevention and control, to producers. In fact, the team publishes so much research on the subject that they earned UF several top five results in a recent study that assessed the productivity of weed science teams worldwide.

“We’ve sustained a pretty high level of activity,” said Jason Ferrell, an agronomy associate professor.

In the current issue of the journal, “Weed Technology,” authors with Lacombe Research Centre in Alberta, Canada, assessed thousands of weed science articles published in peer-reviewed journals and other publications from Jan. 1, 1995 to June 1, 2012.

In the article, UF was mentioned in eight of nine rankings involving research facilities. UF had three top five finishes, including second place in weed biology articles, a sixth-place tie for weed detection articles and a tie for third in preventative weed management articles.

Each of the top sources for preventative weed management articles was then evaluated for the number of articles it published on six control approaches. UF’s results: second place in alternative control, second in biological control, fourth in chemical control, fourth in cultural control, no mention in mechanical control and a third-place tie for preventative control

Peanut Proud Hard At Work
Last year, just prior to the Peanut Proud Festival in Blakely, Ga., the folks at Peanut Proud organized a roundtable discussion to determine how to most effectively undertake humanitarian activities as an industry. On March 23, just prior to the festival this year in Blakely, the group convened again for an update.

To begin the “Roundtable Update,” a few presentations were made, including Jamie Rhoads of Meds and Food for Kids in Haiti; Zach Linneman, who reported on behalf of Dr. Mark Manary and Project Peanut Butter; and Steve Brown, of the University of Georgia, who reported on the newly renamed Peanut CRSP that will now be called the Peanut Mycotoxin Innovation Lab or PMIL. In addition, a video from Abbott Labs new peanut ready-to-use-therapeutic food facility in the Central Plateau in Haiti was shown, and Mark Moore gave a short update by video on the MANA production facility in Fitzgerald, Ga.

Internationally, the use of peanut-based ready-to-use therapeutic foods continues to grow, and organizations are expanding the success of these therapeutic foods by adapting formulas for use treating moderately malnourished kids, and even as school snacks for children in Haiti. All of these products help deliver the message that peanuts are a healthy nourishing food, especially for children.

Peanut Proud has also been busy producing a special peanut butter for food banks. Gregg Grimsley, president of the organization reported on the continuing success behind this industry group, which also continues to grow. The first pallets of Peanut Proud peanut butter will be delivered to peanut states for distribution in the coming months.

After the presentations, the American Peanut Council was tasked with writing up a plan for hiring a staff person to help manage the additional workload regarding the humanitarian initiative.

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