Saturday, June 15, 2024

News Briefs: January 2024

Congress Passes Farm Bill Extension

The U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate voted to approve a short-term funding bill, avoiding a Nov. 17 government shutdown. The legislation, which was proposed by Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA), funds the government by setting up two deadlines.

The first deadline, Jan. 19, covers agencies under four appropriations bills: Agriculture-FDA, Energy and Water, Military Construction-VA and Transportation-HUD. The other eight appropriations bills are extended to a Feb. 2 deadline.

In addition to extending funding and setting up deadlines for appropriations, the legislation includes a one-year extension of Farm Bill programs at the same levels authorized in the 2018 Farm Bill. It also includes funding a number of small programs that were to expire at the end of 2023.

Although the Farm Bill is extended through Sept. 30, 2024, lawmakers are hopeful that it will be passed ahead of that deadline. U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Ranking Member John Boozman (R-AR) released the following statement alongside U.S. House Agriculture Committee Chairman G.T. Thompson (R-PA) and Ranking Member David Scott (D-GA):

“As negotiations on funding the government progress, we were able to come together to avoid a lapse in funding for critical agricultural programs and provide certainty to producers. This extension is in no way a substitute for passing a five-year Farm Bill, and we remain committed to working together to get it done next year.”

The funding bill passed 336-95 in the House of Representatives and 87-11 in the Senate.

Record-High PB Consumption

Per capita consumption of peanut butter reached an unprecedented 4.4 pounds in 2023, according to recent data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Census Bureau. Total peanut per capita consumption remains stable at 7.7 pounds.

“Increasing demand and consumption of US-grown peanuts is a priority for the National Peanut Board,” says former NPB president and CEO Bob Parker. “The entire industry has played a role in achieving these remarkable levels and should be proud.”

“NPB’s marketing and promotion work has focused on instilling a love of peanuts and peanut products in younger generations, making headway against barriers like peanut allergy and investing in production research for growers to produce more peanuts with fewer inputs,” says Ryan Lepicier, who is now NPB president and CEO as of Jan. 1, 2024.

In-shell peanuts also experienced significant growth, up 13% since 2022. “This is one of the first crop years that nearly all ballpark, Virginia-type peanuts grown are high oleic, resulting in a longer shelf-life and a more positive experience for the consumer,” says Parker.

This strong showing for peanuts and peanut butter reaffirms the enduring love for peanut products in American diets. But peanuts and peanut butter are not just snacks; they are versatile ingredients that are making waves in foodservice across the nation. As the demographics of the United States continue to evolve, with an increasingly diverse and multicultural population, peanuts have become an essential component in serving on-trend dishes that cater to the evolving tastes and preferences of consumers.

New Options For Crop Insurance Investment

The 2023 commodity year represents the first time more than $1.2 billion worth of domestic individual peanut liability has been insured through the federal crop insurance program. Supplemental insurance coverages, including Supplemental Coverage Option, Enhanced Coverage Option and Hurricane Insurance Protection – Wind Index added over $163 million to this total. 

Supplemental coverage liability has more than doubled since 2020. More than $58 million in producer-paid premiums accompany the combined individual and supplemental insurance liability. This equates to approximately 1.54 million acres insured under individual base policies, and 715,000 acres were insured with additional supplemental coverages. Over 46% of insured peanut acres were covered by a supplemental insurance program with 76% comprised of HIP-WI coverage in 2023.

Although harvest is ongoing, over $78 million of indemnities have been paid so far on peanut crop insurance programs for 2023. Approximately 78% of those losses were paid as a result of Hurricane Idalia damage with the balance being primarily heat/hot wind.

Since 2019, the value per insured acre of peanuts has increased over 50% from $528 to $797 per acre. This is partially due to an approximate 28% increase in the peanut price election from 2019 to 2023, most of which occurred after 2021. The rest of the increase is due to net changes in the cumulative approved yield amounts across all insured producers.

In the context of current Farm Bill discussions, peanuts represent one of the commodities for which the reference price has been effective in providing counter-cyclical Price Loss Coverage payments, and also increases for Agriculture Risk Coverage benchmark pricing, due to relatively stagnant year-to-year prices.

The 2018 Farm Bill included provisions for the effective reference prices of commodities to increase up to 15% over the statutory reference price based on a moving average of annual prices. Given that annualized peanut prices have not yet triggered an increase in the effective reference price, it is not likely that peanuts will receive as much attention as other commodities in discussions on the next Farm Bill with respect to relative increases in the support price.

47th Annual Georgia Peanut Farm Show Planned

Make plans to attend the 47th annual Georgia Peanut Farm Show and Conference, Thursday, Jan. 18, 2024, 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., University of Georgia Tifton Campus Conference Center, Tifton, Georgia. The one-day show is free and open to all farmers and industry representatives to attend.

Attendees will have the opportunity to visit 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 and developments during the University of Georgia Peanut Production Seminar and industry-wide sponsored Peanut Seed Seminar.

“I encourage farmers to attend this one-day show in Tifton,” says Rodney Dawson, show chairman. “The knowledge they will gain from industry representatives and seminars is an investment in the future of their farm.”

OneBlood will host a blood drive from 9:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. At the show close, 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, contact the Georgia Peanut Commission at 229-386-3470 or visit www.gapeanuts.com.

Trade Delegation Visits Japan

The American Peanut Council led an official trade delegation to Japan in November to meet with top U.S. agriculture and trade officials, importers, manufacturers and other key stakeholders. The 2020 removal of a 10% duty on U.S. peanut imports under the Japan-U.S. Trade Agreement is allowing American peanut producers a more competitive edge in the Japanese market.

Japan is the fifth-largest market for U.S. peanut exports and is consistently growing. In 2022, the peanut industry exported a record-high 20,171 metric tons of peanuts and peanut products to Japan, with a value of $35.6 million.

During the trade mission, U.S. peanut delegates met with representatives from USDA’s Office of Agricultural Affairs and Agricultural Trade in Tokyo, as well as leaders of the Japan Peanut Import Association and Japan Peanut Association. The group also visited a peanut farm in Chiba Prefecture, as well as leading Japanese retailers.

“The official visit to Japan was important for the U.S. peanut industry for continued trade development in what is a consistently growing and promising market,” says APC President and CEO Richard Owen. “Aside from meeting with agriculture and trade policy officials to discuss the current trade environment, the visit helped to further develop key relationships between U.S. peanut exporters and Japanese customers.”

He says timing for the visit was vital as Japanese consumers’ hunger grows for peanuts and peanut products. Japan’s retail market for nuts, seeds and trail mixes was estimated at $408 million in 2023, while the market for nut and seed-based spreads was estimated at $50.1 million in 2022, according to Euromonitor International. Overall, more than 47% of Japanese consumers reported peanut consumption in 2022.

NPB Ready For New Strategic Plan

National Peanut Board leadership has developed a new strategic plan through 2025. NPB’s mission remains the same: to improve the economic condition of U.S. peanut farmers and their families through compelling promotion and groundbreaking research.

Key highlights of the plan include:

Strategy I: Grow consumption by increasing the passion for peanuts among Gen Z and millennials.

Strategy II: Drive toward the eradication of peanut allergy.

Strategy III: Protect progress to date and continue to remove barriers to consumption.

Strategy IV: Maximize impact of production research.

Strategy V: Channel the value growers see in NPB into greater engagement.

Strategy VI: Position the organization for a sustainable future

The last strategy was added to ensure NPB is fully prepared to successfully evolve through the transition to a new CEO.

The V-C Represents Each State On Social Media

What was once “Virginia Carolinas Peanuts” now has three separate social media accounts to better cater to the peanut communities in Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Social media is used to communicate with consumers looking for recipes, education materials, events, industry updates and more. Here’s how to follow along: for Virginia- search “Virginia Peanuts” or @vapeanutgrowers on Facebook and Instagram; North Carolina- search “NC Peanuts” or @ncpeanuts on Facebook, Instagram and X; South Carolina- search “South Carolina Peanut Board” or @sc_peanuts on Facebook and Instagram.

Seed Certification Annual Meeting

The Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies is a non-profit organization founded in 1919 (formally known as the International Crop Improvement Association) in an effort to establish credible standards for the production of high-quality seed. Today, AOSCA has member agencies across the United States as well as seven member countries including Canada, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. AOSCA member agencies certify around 3.2 million acres of seed and vegetatively propagated crops annually.

In 2024, the AOSCA annual meeting will be held June 16-19, 2024, at Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort, Miramar Beach, Florida. This meeting is hosted by the Alabama Crop Improvement Association and the Southern Seed Certification Association. For information or sponsorship opportunities, email Teresa Snyder, executive assistant, at tsnyder@aosca.org.

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