House Ag Committee Recognizes Challenges
The U.S. House Committee on Agriculture held a hearing recently entitled: “Uncertainty, Inflation, Regulations: Challenges for American Agriculture.” Committee chairman Congressman G.T. Thompson (R-PA) says that “enduring production agriculture policies are essential to our national security. Maintaining a safe, abundant and affordable domestic food supply is equally essential, as is meeting the needs of perennial global food crises.”
During the hearing, committee members and witnesses discussed a variety of issues, including the necessity of raising reference prices for commodity programs in response to high input costs and lagging prices, as well as the issue of the Adverse Effect Wage Rates for H2A workers.
Congressman Austin Scott (R-GA), who was recently appointed as vice chairman of the committee, stressed the need for reference price reform in his questions to American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall.
“Yes, it is time to broaden the baseline because those targets that we use and the commodity programs and the costs that we have to go to growing a crop is nowhere near where it was when that target was set,” Duvall says. “It needs to be modernized, and it needs to be a true safety net based on the cost of production today.”
Chairman Thompson closed the hearing with final remarks saying, “Getting the Farm Bill done right and on time will require a lot of work and attention from all of us, but we owe it to all our constituents—from producers to processors, and ultimately, to consumers—to get that policy right.”
2022 Peanut Crop Value Declines
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, the price of peanuts averaged $0.262 per pound in 2022 or $524 ton, 7.8% higher than 2021. The value of the 2022 crop at farm level is $1.4 million, a 6% decrease from 2021. Harvested peanut acres were down 10.1%.
The highest average price was paid in New Mexico at $980 per ton followed by Texas at $780 per ton. The lowest average price was paid in Georgia at $496 per ton. About 49% of the revenue from peanuts was produced in Georgia. Ranking second in revenue was Florida at10%, followed by Alabama at 9.8%.
National Peanut Board Allocates Research Funds
The National Peanut Board recently reviewed and approved 74 state production research projects for fiscal year 2023 for a total of $2,043,266 in funding allocations.
In its 20-plus year history, NPB has invested and secured more than $45 million in production research funding through budgeted allocations and industry matching funds. Funding production research to increase efficiencies for America’s peanut farmers and their families is a core part of the board’s mission.
During the quarterly board meeting, a new strategic plan was approved by the NPB. Also, during the meeting, staff gave an update of the 2023 “We Grow Comfort” campaign, and new board members and alternates were sworn in. The next meeting of the National Peanut Board will be held April 3-6 in Des Moines, Iowa.
Georgia Senator Appointed To Ag Committees
Georgia Senator Reverend Warnock was appointed to three influential subcommittees on the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.
Warnock will serve on the Subcommittee on Commodities, Risk Management and Trade, the Subcommittee on Conservation, Climate, Forestry and Natural Resources, and the Subcommittee on Food and Nutrition, Specialty Crops, Organics and Research.
Through his roles on his respective subcommittees, Senator Reverend Warnock will legislate and oversee federal policy regarding commodities, specialty crops, nutrition benefits, agriculture research and producers’ access to markets and capital.
The Senator will play a crucial role in crafting the 2023 Farm Bill, the primary agricultural and food policy tool of the federal government reauthorized once every five years.
Premium Peanut Announces CEO Transition
Premium Peanut recently announced that its CEO, Karl Zimmer, will be stepping down in September following the completion of the fiscal year for personal reasons.
“Premium Peanut is more than a company, we are a group of phenomenal people — from our grower owners to our employees to our board members,” Karl Zimmer says. “It has been an honor to partner with this great group of people in transforming an idea into an industry-leading peanut shelling and oil business.”
“On behalf of Premium Peanut’s board of directors, we want to express our sincere appreciation for Karl’s leadership over the last eight years and during the transition,” says Kent Fountain, Premium Peanut chairman. “Karl has built a strong leadership team, and his contributions to our ongoing success will be felt for years.”
The board will be initiating a search for the next CEO of Premium Peanut. Karl Zimmer and Kent Fountain will partner during the transition period to ensure Premium Peanut continues to deliver on its commitments until a new CEO is appointed.
Olam Announces Promotion
Olam Food Ingredients recently announced the promotion of Mike Davis to vice president of peanut shelling in the United States. Davis has been with OFI as senior sales director of peanut shelling since July 2019. He has been in the peanut industry for more than 35 years, holding various roles in sales, marketing and procurement in the food manufacturing segment.
Davis assumes all leadership responsibility for facilities in Rochelle and Smithville, Georgia; Samson, Alabama; and the buying points.
Georgia Peanut Commission Celebrates Peanut Month
March — National Peanut Month — is a time to celebrate America’s favorite food! The Georgia peanut industry kicked off the celebration by hosting the 2023 Georgia PB&J Day at the state capitol. During the event, the Georgia Peanut Commission and Peanut Proud donated peanut butter to the Atlanta Community Food Bank.
Peanuts and peanut butter were promoted during the event by industry partners serving grilled PB&Js, country-fried peanuts, peanut candy and more. Governor Brian Kemp presented a proclamation recognizing March as National Peanut Month while Sen. Russ Goodman, chairman of the Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee, and Rep. Robert Dickey, chairman of the House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee presented resolutions recognizing the importance of Georgia’s peanut industry.
“Peanuts are Georgia’s official state crop, and the state boasts the largest share of peanut production in the U.S. at nearly 52% for the 2022 crop,” says Joe Boddiford, chairman of the Georgia Peanut Commission. “Georgia’s 4,000 peanut farmers contribute approximately $2 billion annually to the state and local economy.”
Sponsors and exhibitors include the Georgia Peanut Commission, Kroger, Georgia Agribusiness Council, Georgia Farm Bureau, Peanut Proud, Atlanta Community Food Bank and the University of Georgia Peanut Team.
President Carter Still Influencing The World
In late February, the Carter Center announced that former President Jimmy Carter, also a former peanut farmer, was in Hospice care and would spend his remaining time at home with his family.
The Carter Center, with the Carter Presidential Library, has been the former president’s headquarters for his writing, peacemaking and public health efforts for decades. The Carter Presidential Library in Atlanta holds a wealth of resources on the decisions made by the president and his administration.
Carter was the most unusual of 20th-century presidents — perhaps even unique. He maintained his roots in the small town of Plains, Georgia, for his entire life. He and his wife have lived in the home they built in 1961. His family business had been peanut farming and peanut harvest warehousing, and he returned to that business after his service in the Navy before entering politics.
National Peanut Month PB Donation
As part of the 2023 PB&J Day celebrating March as National Peanut Month at the state capital in Atlanta, peanut butter valued at $10,000 was presented to the Atlanta Community Food Bank by the Georgia Peanut Commission and Peanut Proud. The food bank provides food and grocery products to more than 700 nonprofit partner agencies with hunger relief programs throughout 29 counties in metro Atlanta and north Georgia. According to Ben Burgess, corporate relations manager with the food bank, the need for food assistance is not going away.
“A recent study of our service area showed that an average of 200,000 food-insecure households are served each month through the Atlanta Community Food Bank partner agency network. Peanut butter is a very nutritious and important product to those clients because it has a stable shelf life,” Burgess says. “One jar can make several meals for a family or individual in need. This donation will help the nearly 10% of Georgian residents and the one in seven children who are food insecure in the state.”
Coincidentally, March is National Nutrition Month – a great time to recognize the nutritional value of peanuts. One serving of peanuts is a good source of protein, vitamin E, niacin, folate, phosphorus and magnesium. Peanuts are naturally cholesterol-free and low in saturated fat.
UGA’s Institute for Integrative Precision Agriculture To Host Global Conference
The Integrative Precision Agriculture International Conference — Local Solutions Through Global Advances will be held May 18-19 at the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education and Hotel. Hosted by the University of Georgia’s Institute for Integrative Precision Agriculture, the conference will feature speakers who solve problems around the world and offer new perspectives on common challenges in the field.
Crop and livestock farms throughout Georgia are in a perpetual exchange of ideas and innovations to solve challenges that have tangible impacts on the state and country’s food supply. Participants of the two-day conference will share a vision for how integrative precision agriculture can be applied to solve critical issues facing crop and animal production.
“We thought it was important to provide a range of ideas on problem solving in other parts of the country or world,” says George Vellidis, a professor in UGA’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and one of the event’s organizers. “We invited a suite of people from around the industry who are on the cutting edge of some of these new agriculture technologies that we know will be a benefit to all our attendees.”
At the conference, session one will focus on new developments in the delivery and types of chemicals used to protect crops from insects or disease, providing insight into new technologies that could minimize chemical use by as much as 70%. In addition to the obvious financial cost efficiencies at stake, this would offset environmental costs as well.
On day two, speakers will focus on poultry, Georgia’s biggest agricultural industry in terms of dollars generated. Industry experts will offer new perspectives and integrative precision agriculture solutions that address concerns about animal welfare in poultry production.
Side Events Include Spray Drone Workshop, Stadium Tour And Hackathon
Conference attendees will have opportunities to participate in post-conference events like a spray drone workshop, student hackathon and tour of UGA’s Sanford Stadium.
The spray drone workshop will be led by a pair of experts, one from Auburn University and another from Greece, whose experience with the technology varies based on the types of crops and climates.
The stadium tour will feature work from Gerald Henry, UGA professor in environmental turfgrass, whose lab examines turf maintenance in hopes of minimizing potential injury. Henry uses many precision agriculture technologies, like drones that can fly over fields to help identify turf weaknesses. He and his students will share their work, and then participants will be able to tour the world-class facilities of the two-time defending football national champions.
Lastly, the student hackathon will comprise an introduction to machine learning, deep learning and computer vision led by UGA School of Computing Assistant Professor Jin Sun. Students will learn basic concepts, data collection, choosing machine learning models and more. In the second part, students will use this knowledge to develop solutions to two challenges—one in crop production and the other in poultry production. The first will focus on analyzing farmland for crop yield prediction using satellite and drone data, the second on detecting and counting chickens in still images on challenging conditions. Teams developing the best solution to each problem will be awarded $1,000.
Registration for the full conference and one Friday event costs $100. Student registration is $25. Those interested in attending just the spray drone workshop can do so for $30.