Monday, July 15, 2024

News Briefs: July 2024

Ag Committee Approves Farm Bill

The U.S. House Committee on Agriculture voted to pass the Farm Bill, titled “The Farm, Food, and National Security Act of 2024” in a 33-21 vote. Four democrats – Reps. Sanford Bishop (GA-02), Yadira Caraveo (CO-08), Don Davis (NC-01) and Eric Sorenson (IL-17) – joined with republican committee members in voting yes on this legislation.

The legislation includes a 17.8% increase in reference price for peanuts in the Price Loss Coverage program, bringing the reference price from $535 per ton to $630 per ton. It also includes other peanut priorities, including a provision for a one-time voluntary base update for young farmers and new production areas to be able to utilize the programs.

Congressman Austin Scott (GA-08) says, “As vice chair of the House Agriculture Committee, I am pleased that several of my priorities to ensure a strong farm safety net were included in this legislation, and I appreciate the bipartisan support for final passage through committee.”

Following the markup, U.S. House Agriculture Committee chairman G.T. Thompson said that he does not expect the legislation to be considered on the House Floor before September due to the busy appropriations schedule for the upcoming months.

USPF Applauds Committee’s Farm Bill Passage

Prior to passage, the U.S. Peanut Federation sent a letter to chairman G.T. Thompson in support of the legislation, stating: “The United States Peanut Federation sincerely appreciates the hard work that went into producing the 2024 Farm Bill. This legislation will support peanut producers who have been struggling in recent years due to increases in farm inputs, labor shortages, trade barriers and supply chain disruptions.”

Throughout the Farm Bill process, the peanut industry has been united in its priorities, namely a meaningful increase in the reference price for the Price Loss Coverage program. The historic rise in input costs and cost of production make a reference price increase a necessity to keep the farm safety net intact.

“The U.S. Peanut Federation appreciates the hard work of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee in drafting this Farm Bill and passing it out of committee,” says USPF chairman Jamie Brown. “The peanut industry has struggled in recent years due to increases in farm inputs, labor shortages, trade barriers and supply chain disruptions. This markup was an important first step in getting producers the assistance they need to continue to produce our nation’s food, fuel and fiber. USPF applauds the Members of Congress who supported farm communities by voting to advance this important legislation.”

NPB Garners Grower Support With 93% Approval

Peanut producers voted overwhelmingly to continue the Peanut Promotion, Research and Information Program, administered by the National Peanut Board, in a referendum conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture April 8-19, 2024. Results show that 93.23% of voting farmers said “yes” to continuing NPB’s research, marketing and promotion program.

“We accomplished almost every goal in our strategic plan, including reaching record-high per capita consumption of 7.8 pounds in 2022, growing peanut love among millennial and Gen Z consumers and making peanut production more sustainable,” says NPB President and CEO Ryan Lepicier. “This resounding approval encourages us to continue working as hard as we can to drive impact for America’s peanut farmers and their families.”

For the continuances, a simple majority of eligible producers needed to vote in favor of continuing the order. Growers who paid assessments on peanuts produced during the representative period from Jan. 1, 2022, through Dec. 31, 2022, were eligible to vote.

“I am extremely proud of the work NPB does as a whole but especially proud of our work in the areas of production research and peanut allergy prevention,” says Greg Baltz, 2024 NPB chairman and a peanut farmer from Arkansas. “It’s great to see that USA peanut farmers see the exceptional work that the Board does promoting our sustainable, nutritious peanuts.” 

The last referendum for peanuts was conducted by USDA in 2019.

Export Promotion Expands With Rapp Funds

USDA launched the $1.2 billion Regional Agricultural Promotion Program in 2023 in response to a bipartisan request from the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. RAPP aims to diversify and expand market opportunities for U.S. food and agricultural products beyond the traditional top customers – Canada, Mexico, the European Union and China (including Hong Kong and Macau) – which collectively comprise nearly 60% of U.S. agricultural export sales.

Instead, RAPP will focus on enhancing U.S. exports to new markets in parts of the world, including South and Southeast Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa, where the middle class is growing and the desire for high-quality food and farm products is increasing. Gaining market share in these diverse and dynamic markets will help U.S. exporters to better weather global shocks and to compete in an increasingly volatile global marketplace.

Total awarded funds for 2024 RAPP were $300 million. The American Peanut Council will receive $2.97 million over five years.

Clay Pirkle Hired By GAFSIS

The board of directors of Georgia Federal State Inspection Service is pleased to announce that Clay Pirkle of Turner County has been hired as director of operations. This job is a training position leading to president. T.E. Moye will remain as president during the training period. The board chose this approach in order to have a smooth transition.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture sets the guidelines and parameters for the inspection process, and it can be a lengthy learning period to completely understand the working relationship the Georgia inspection service has with farmers, buying points shellers and USDA.

2024 Peanut Growers Conference

The 25th Annual Southern Peanut Growers Conference will be held July 17-19, 2024, at the Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa, Savannah, Georgia. The three-day event provides farmers with information about peanut production, legislative issues, marketing and promotions.

The conference schedule includes the following:

General Session I: Piloting Peanuts through the Course with speakers Bob Parker, Peanut Solutions, and former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and current chancellor of the University System of Georgia, Sonny Perdue;

General Session II: Setting a New Course for Peanuts with Drs. Michael Deliberto, Louisiana State University, and Ondulla Toomer, Food Science and Market Quality and Handling Research Unit, USDA-ARS;

General Session III: Navigating Difficult Waters: Peanut Policy and Economics with U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas, former chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture, and a report from Bob Redding, The Redding Firm.

For more information on SPGC, go to southernpeanutfarmers.org.

Producers Reaffirm GPC

The Georgia Peanut Commission received reaffirmation with a vote of 91.99% during the recent referendum, held March 8 through April 8, 2024.

“I appreciate the farmers’ confidence in the commission, and we are committed to continue earning that confidence,” says Joe Boddiford, farmer from Sylvania, Georgia, and GPC chairman.

“The commission continues to work together as a partnership between Georgia’s peanut farmers and the commission board and staff, in funding research projects, promoting peanuts and working on the farmers’ behalf in Washington, D.C. All of these combined efforts allow us to provide a healthy, nutritious product for consumers and help keep farmers profitable for the future,” he says.

“Our staff is humbled by the support of peanut farmers in Georgia,” says Don Koehler, GPC’s executive director. “We will continue to seek opportunities through programs in research, education and promotion to enhance profit opportunities on the farm.”

Georgia peanut farmers invest $2 per ton annually to the commission to be used in the program areas of research, promotion and education. As required by Georgia state law, the state’s peanut farmers vote on the commission every three years.

For additional information on the Georgia Peanut Commission and its activities, visit their website at www.gapeanuts.com.

The Alabama Heirs Property Alliance

Heirs’ property, or family land, is common in Alabama. Whether families are attempting to develop or sell the land left by previous generations, the lack of a clear title makes it difficult for families to move forward.

Adam Rabinowitz, Alabama Cooperative Extension agricultural economist, says heirs’ property is an issue that is created when someone dies without having a will or without the will being properly probated in the courts. “As a result, all of the heirs of the deceased become shared owners of the land. This can lead to a large number of family members having a fractional interest in the land.”

The Alabama Heirs Property Alliance is a partnership between Auburn University, Alabama A&M University and Tuskegee University with the purpose of providing guidance to landowners in need of direction about heirs’ property.

Rabinowitz says the level of need in Alabama is one of the reasons that he and colleagues partnered together. A training program for Extension agents and specialists, as well as legal professionals, was created and helps enable these professionals to be more effective in their conversations and assistance with stakeholders.

“The team that we have been building in Alabama is going to help address landowner challenges that can create tension in families, limit income and wealth opportunities and potentially lead to land loss,” says Rabinowitz. “By training and further supporting Extension professionals, the alliance will have a much wider impact in minimizing the negative effects of heirs’ property.”

Portia Johnson, Auburn College of Human Science’s department of Consumer and Design Sciences assistant professor, says a common misconception is that when leaving property to others, the easiest and most fair thing to do is to pass land down to all heirs jointly.

“Leaving physical property, whether that be land or a home, to all your children equally and collectively can cause a lot of unintended consequences,” Johnson says. “Leaving joint ownership creates rifts and disagreements within the family about how to manage or divide use of the property. It can also leave the property vulnerable and legally unprotected.”

One of the best things families can do as they are making estate planning decisions is to leave ancestral land with clear titles and an understanding of their wishes.

“Sometimes the decisions made in a will with the intention of keeping the family land together could be the very things that end up tearing the family and the land apart in the end,” she says.

Learn more about heirs’ property and how you can prevent it by visiting the Alabama Heirs Property Alliance web page at www.aces.edu/blog/topics/farm-management/alabama-heirs-property-alliance. You can also search the Extension website calendar or call your county Extension office to see if there is an heirs’ property event scheduled in your area.

MANA Celebrates Plant Opening, USAID Purchase

More than 200 friends, supporters, employees and neighbors joined the celebration at MANA factory in Fitzgerald, Georgia.

CEO Mark Moore says, “Today marks a milestone for MANA. It has been a 14-year journey, starting with a dream, little expertise, even less money and lots of grit and optimism. Today, we are launching the biggest plant in the world for making Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food. RUTF is the key intervention for feeding and saving severely malnourished children. Along the way we have fed more than eight million children with over one billion little packets.

Moore thanked the many donors, investors and collaborators who have helped them reach this milestone, most notably Sir Chris Holm as their capital investment partner and USAID as the purchasing partner.

Samantha Power, Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, says 164 million kids are at risk of food insecurity and 8,000 die every day. Globally, 29% of children under five suffer from malnutrition, and under-nutrition is an underlying cause of 45% of deaths among children under five, mainly in low and middle-income countries.

Power says in 2022, USAID invested $200 million with private matching donors raising $330 million. “Today, we are announcing that USAID will provide another $200 million to make resources that will purchase many more RUTF packages and get them around the world. Global Hunger is a solvable problem as we make investments in this life saving system by turning peanuts into medicine.”

Export Promotion By The Numbers

One of the American Peanut Council’s core responsibilities is to administer an export promotion program for U.S. peanuts with the objective of increasing the consumption of U.S.-grown peanuts and peanut products internationally. The APC does not process or sell peanuts; instead, its resources are devoted to market development and dissemination of trade information on behalf of the U.S. industry.

Funding for APC export promotion activities is shared between the U.S. peanut industry and U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service. The efforts are funded through the Market Access Program, Foreign Market Development and other related programs administered by USDA.

On average, the U.S. peanut industry exports 20%-30% of the crop. Maintaining strong export markets is an important strategic priority.

APC members can find export data “one pagers” for the top six 2023 peanut export markets on their website at peanutsusa.com. Each one contains 2023 peanut export statistics, as well as insights into consumption habits and snacking trends.

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