Saturday, June 15, 2024

News Briefs: February 2024

Time To Select Farm Programs

Farmers can now enroll in the Farm Service Agency’s Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage programs for the 2024 crop year. The deadline to complete enrollment and any election change is March 15, 2024.

Farmers can elect coverage and enroll in ARC-County or PLC, which provide crop-by-crop protection, or ARC-Individual, which protects the entire farm. Although election changes for 2024 are optional, farmers must enroll through a signed contract each year. Also, if a farmer has a multi-year contract on the farm, it will continue for 2024 unless an election change is made.

Covered commodities include barley, canola, large and small chickpeas, corn, crambe, flaxseed, grain sorghum, lentils, mustard seed, oats, peanuts, dry peas, rapeseed, long grain rice, medium grain rice, safflower seed, seed cotton, sesame, soybeans, sunflower seed and wheat.

ARC and PLC payments for a given crop year are paid out the following fall to allow actual county yields and the Market Year Average prices to be finalized. These payments help mitigate fluctuations in either revenue or prices for certain crops. Payments for crops that may trigger for the 2023 crop year will be issued in the fall of 2024.

Program elections and enrollments can impact eligibility for some crop insurance products.

For more information on ARC and PLC, producers can visit the ARC and PLC webpage or contact their local USDA Service Center.

Enroll Now In Sustainability Program

The American Peanut Council is currently enrolling growers for the third crop year of the Sustainable U.S. Peanut Initiative. The industry-wide initiative documents and measures growers’ environmental footprint to help tell the positive story about peanut sustainability to consumers, customers, government, trading partners and other stakeholders.

The program is creating transparency that will serve the entire supply chain – from the people who love to grow peanuts, to the people who love to eat them. Enrollment highlights for year two of the initiative include the following:

170 growers managing 98,112 peanut acres in 11 states.

7% of the 2022 U.S.-planted peanut acres or 1.4 million acres.

24,493 peanut acres with a fieldprint analysis, representing 60,204 tons of peanuts.

274 peanut fields.

Growers can enroll now through April. To learn more, contact Allison Randell at arandell@peanutsusa.com.

Second Spray Drone Conference Planned

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System is hosting the second annual Spray Drone End-User Conference Feb. 26-29, at The Lodge at Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores, Alabama. The first conference was held virtually in 2023 with 220 people in attendance.

This year, Steve Li, Alabama Extension weed scientist, and his team are offering the conference in a hybrid format.

“The conference was the most comprehensive, end-user-focused spraying event in North America in 2023. We are excited that it is back for 2024,” Li says.

Registration is available online through the Alabama Extension Store at www.aces.edu/go/store. There are two registration fees based on attendance preferences – in-person and remote. Remote attendees will have access to all presentations but will not have access to panels and field demonstrations. Recordings of the presentations will be available to all participants after the conference.

The conference will include technical field demonstrations with several of the latest spray drone models, as well as live swath testing, regulatory updates from the proper entities, presentations from renowned researchers, equipment manufacturers and experienced drone operators. An additional panel discussion and Q&A with regulatory agency representatives, researchers, equipment manufacturers and experienced custom-spray-drone operators will be held as will a technical session focusing on spray drift management and spray drone repair.

Li began his focus on drone use in field crops in 2019. Since 2022, Li’s research and outreach efforts include approximately 100 field trials, 42 live-drone demonstrations, many educational presentations and regular social media posts about spray drones. These efforts have reached more than 154,250 people across 25 countries and six continents.

“Three years ago, we began working with drones and precision technologies,” Li says. “Now, we are heavily focused on delivering crop protection chemicals – including herbicide, fungicides and insecticides – as well as other chemicals that farmers typically use on the farm with these new technologies.”

For more information, visit the conference web page on the Alabama Extension website at www.aces.edu/go/DroneConference, or contact Li at steveli@auburn.edu.

Industry Faces Price Increase

For peanut shellers and farmers who participate in the H-2A labor program, new adverse effect wage rates went into effect Jan. 1. Following a 21% increase in the wage in the past 14 months, Georgia’s AEWR is now set at $14.68 for H-2A workers for 2024.

The U.S. Peanut Federation and others have worked with members of our congressional delegation to meet with USDA in an attempt to shed light on the process that determines the AEWR. Regardless of the methodology, Georgia growers and others are now faced with yet another wage increase. Coupled with the complexity and administrative cost to use the program, the escalating wage increases are making the program unaffordable for growers who depend on H-2A workers.

NPB Announces New Officers

The National Peanut Board elected a new slate of officers for a one-year at the start of 2024. Elected are Greg Baltz, Arkansas, chairman; Casey Cox Kerr, Georgia, vice-chairman; Neal Baxley, South Carolina, treasurer; and Jeff Roper, Texas, as secretary.

Learn more about the officer team on the “our people” page on the website, www.nationalpeanutboard.org.

The next quarterly board meeting is planned for Jan. 30-31, 2024, in Atlanta, Georgia, where the research committee will consider requests for FY-24 funding for production research from state peanut producer organizations and universities. Funding production research to make America’s peanut farmers more competitive is a core part of the Board’s mission. To learn more about previously approved research projects, see their production research database.

EU Continues Tariff Suspension

The American Peanut Council is pleased by the recent announcement by the European Union to further suspend retaliatory tariffs on U.S. peanut butter until March 31, 2025. The 25% tariff on imports of U.S. peanut butter was set to be reimposed Dec. 31, 2023.

“This is welcome news to the peanut industry and all those working in the supply chain to produce peanut butter for overseas markets,” says APC President and CEO Richard Owen. “But we still have a long way to go to recoup our losses of more than $20 million due to a tariff war we didn’t begin, yet all the same are feeling its deep impact.”

The EU’s retaliatory tariffs were in response to 2018 U.S. tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum. As a result of the retaliatory tariffs, U.S. exports of peanut butter and other prepared peanuts exported under harmonized tariff code 2008.11 dropped from a high of nearly $22 million in 2017 to $1.4 million in 2020. In 2021, the United States and the EU agreed to a truce suspending the retaliatory tariffs. Since then, U.S. exports of peanut butter climbed marginally to $2.3 million. However, U.S. peanut butter exports to the EU have again slipped in 2023, now down 18% to $1.5 million year-to-date through October 2023.

Prior to the retaliatory tariffs, the EU was a promising growth market for U.S. peanut butter as more European consumers were being introduced to the product and demand was growing, due in large part to APC’s export promotion work.

“Compound the past five years of lost market access with increasing input and labor costs, all while peanut prices remain relatively stable amongst other food price inflation, and it has turned into the perfect storm for peanut growers and peanut butter exporters to the EU,” says Owen. “We need to continue working until the promise of an impending tariff on peanut butter is no longer on the table.”

American Peanut Council’s mission is to support all sectors for the long-term growth of the U.S. peanut industry. For more information about APC, visit www.peanutsusa.com.

Georgia Looking For NPB Rep

The Georgia Peanut Commission seeks eligible peanut producers who are interested in serving on the national peanut board. GPC will hold a nominations election to select two nominees each for member and alternate to the National Peanut Board during a meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024, at noon during the GPC research report day at the National Environmentally Sound Production Agriculture Laboratory, located on the University of Georgia Tifton campus at 2360 Rainwater Road, Tifton, Georgia.

All eligible peanut producers are encouraged to participate. Eligible producers are those who are engaged in the production and sale of peanuts and who own or share the ownership and risk of loss of the crop.

Casey Cox Kerr of Camilla is the current Georgia NPB board member and Wesley Webb of Leary serves as the alternate. Their terms expire Dec. 31, 2024. USDA requires two nominees for each position of member and alternate. NPB will submit Georgia’s slate of nominees to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, who makes the appointments.

NPB encourages inclusion of persons of any race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation and marital or family status. USDA’s policy is that membership on industry-government boards and committees accurately reflect the diversity of individuals served by the programs.

Virginia Growers To Meet

The Virginia Peanut Growers Association’s 76th annual meeting will be held Feb. 22, 2024, at the Workforce Development Center, in Franklin, Virginia. The meeting will be held in conjunction with the statewide peanut production meeting. The program begins at 9 a.m. with research updates and Extension production presentations. After a catered lunch, the association meeting will be conducted by president Wesley Barnes and executive director Caitlin Joyner. Crop yield winners from 2023 will be awarded, and raffle drawings will be held as well.

Peanut Buying Points To Meet

The National Peanut Buying Points winter conference is set for Feb. 16-18, 2024, at The Desoto hotel in Savannah, Georgia. The conference theme is “new technology in the peanut world.” All buying points, shellers and industry associates are invited to attend.

The program will kick off Friday night with the president’s welcome reception. Educational sessions will be held  Saturday and Sunday mornings. There will be a prayer breakfast Sunday morning. The NPBPA PAC’s great cash giveaway reception and auction will be held Sunday evening.

Registration is available on the NPBPA website at peanutbuyingpoints.org. For more information or to obtain a registration form, email Angela Elder at  spearmanagency@friendlycity.net.

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