News Briefs: June 2023

Commodity programs account for 4% of Farm Bill’s $1.5 trillion projected costs. Bipartisan congressional effort targets commodity research and promotion boards. GPC approves 35 proposals and $700,000 plus for research. Alabama producers renew referendum with 91% vote. Peanut Innovation Lab renewed with $15 million grant. North Carolina Peanut Growers Association celebrates 70 years, unveils new logo.

No Better Return On Investment Than The Farm Bill

The Farm Bill process kicked off in February with the release of the Congressional Budget Office baseline, which identifies the expected cost for farm programs over the next 10 years. It also outlines what is available to the U.S. Congress for program spending as they begin drafting the bill. The report projected $1.5 trillion in total costs, of which 82% is for nutrition and feeding programs, 4% for conservation, 4% for commodity programs and 7% for crop insurance. 

In March, the U.S. House Agriculture Committee approved a letter regarding the fiscal year 2024 budget. After the letter was favorably reported out of the committee, Chairman Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) issued the following statement: 

“The committee’s budget views and estimates letter outlines a clear, bipartisan blueprint to invest in the hardworking men and women of American agriculture — the folks who work 365 days a year to feed and fuel our nation. While additional funds are necessary, there is no piece of legislation that provides a better return on investment than the Farm Bill. 

“In the wake of record inflation, a global pandemic and geopolitical turmoil, American farmers, ranchers, foresters, producers and consumers are suffering. The best way to support them is to pass an effective, bipartisan and timely Farm Bill, and the letter considered today provides a sensible path forward.”

A Challenge To Check-Off Programs

The U.S. Peanut Federation signed a letter with other commodity organizations opposing S. 557 and H.R. 1249, titled “Opportunities for Fairness in Farming (OFF) Act.” This legislation was introduced by Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Mike Lee (R-UT) and Reps. Dina Titus (D-NV) and Nancy Mace (R-SC) to target commodity research and promotion boards, known as “check-off” programs. This legislation would substantially undermine the research and promotion boards’ ability to promote U.S. agriculture. 

Georgia Growers Invest In Research 

The Georgia Peanut Commission board of directors has approved $706,139 in research funding for the 2023-24 budget year. The approved projects include 35 proposals submitted from the University of Georgia, Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service. 

Georgia’s peanut growers invest $2 per ton annually toward programs that include research, promotion and education. The research programs primarily focus on peanut breeding, conservation methods, irrigation and water management, as well as pest, weed and disease management.

“As a peanut grower, I’m proud to invest in the GPC and in the future of the peanut industry by supporting research that continues to demonstrate a return on our investment,” says Donald Chase, GPC research committee chairman. “We are proud of our partnership with research institutions and look forward to seeing results that will benefit farmers and enhance the sustainability of our crop.”

Additionally, GPC manages funding for the Southeastern Peanut Research Initiative that includes $1.3 million for projects in Alabama, Florida and Georgia. These projects are funded through the National Peanut Board check-off.

2023 International Peanut Forum

The 2023 International Peanut Forum was held in Lisbon, Portugal, April 26-28. The industry’s premier event brought together more than 325 attendees from 35 countries to discuss the latest issues and opportunities in the global peanut market. It is the only event where peanut industry leaders from around the globe gather to make connections and conduct business around vital peanut issues.

The IPF theme for 2023 was “Connecting the Peanut World.” This year’s conference covered key areas of the peanut supply chain, including research, market trends and new product development, sustainability and the use of peanuts to fight malnutrition. 

The conference program included keynote speaker Veerle Poppe, sustainability strategist for Belgium’s leading retailer, the Colruyt Group. Other speakers included: Diego Bracco, Maniagro Argentina; Erwan Chapuis, Nutriset Group; Robson Fonseca, Coplana; Edoardo Fracanzani, Camara Argentina del Mani; Wessel Higgs, Triotrade Gauteng Pty Ltd.; Collins McNeill, MC McNeill & Co.; Irene Moreno, Importaco; Stu MacDonald, ManiLife; Richard Owen, American Peanut Council; Bob Parker, National Peanut Board; Tessa Schoones, Innova Market Insights; Dr. Samara Sterling, The Peanut Institute; Nilesh Vira, IOPEPC; Joaquin Zavala, Comasa; and Peng Zhang, Qingdao Peanut Import & Export Association. 

Alabama Producers Approve Referendum 

Alabama peanut farmers voted to continue the current assessment on peanuts that is collected by the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries and administered by the Alabama Peanut Producers Association. In a referendum conducted April 20, 2023, 91% voted “yes” to continue APPA’s programs in education, promotion and research. 

The referendum is conducted every three years. However, a bill passed  in the Alabama legislature changes the requirement to five years after 2026.

“The check-off we receive funds production research, grower and consumer education. It’s important that we continue to promote our nutrient-packed peanuts, peanut butter and other peanut products,” says Carl Sanders, APPA president and Coffee County peanut farmer. “The referendum results are indicative of the great work APPA does on behalf of our peanut farmers.”

In the past three years, more than $500,000 has been invested in production research in partnership with Auburn University and the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. This research has contributed to yield increases and more efficient production practices. 

More than $600,000 has been utilized in promotion, contributing to an increase in peanut and peanut butter consumption. Another win is the early introdution of peanuts to infants recommendations by more Alabama pediatricians and parents. Peanut allergy education efforts are also included in the promotions.

In grower eduction, more than $400,000 has been allocated for grower production meetings, the APPA website, quarterly newsletters, social media and emails.

APC Hires Seasoned Communicator For New Post 

Tracy Grondine

The American Peanut Council recently announced the hiring of Tracy Grondine as vice president of communications. Grondine brings a wealth of experience in developing communications, marketing, media and branding for mission-driven organizations.  

Grondine fills a newly created role at APC to develop and execute a clear, consistent brand across all of APC’s programs and services, both in the United States and globally. Grondine will apply her expertise to increase industry awareness of APC and its activities on the industry’s behalf, grow membership and establish APC as an industry trend spotter and thought leader. Grondine will also work with The Peanut Foundation and the American Peanut Research and Education Society, which are under APC’s management. 

“I’m pleased that we have brought someone with Tracy’s deep communications and marketing expertise into the peanut family,” said Richard Owen, APC president and CEO.

Grondine worked in communications at the U.S. Apple Association, the American Farm Bureau Federation and held communications roles at the National Corn Growers Association, the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives and the National Grange. She has a Master’s degree in Political Management from George Washington University and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Charleston, West Virginia. 

Grondine can be reached at tgrondine@peanutsusa.com.

Substantial Grant For Peanut Innovation Lab

Farmers around the world grow peanuts because the plant adapts to poor soils and produces a crop even as drought becomes more common. Peanuts are shelf-stable, nutritious, don’t require expensive fertilizer and people like to eat them. Smallholder farmers around the world grow the crop on modest plots and cook the nuts into traditional dishes or sell the crop for money to send their kids to school.

In April, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the University of Georgia announced a five-year extension of their collaborative research and outreach work in peanut innovation.

The $15 million grant from USAID will allow the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Peanut, which is headquartered in the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, to scale up the findings from previous research and get the technology into farmers’ fields.

“We are pleased that USAID has chosen to continue their funding of the Peanut Innovation Lab for another five years,” says CAES Dean and Director Nick T. Place. “Our mission in CAES is to support the creation of sustainable food systems both here and abroad. The important work done through this program is a critical part of that mission, and we are excited to see what results come out of the Peanut Innovation Lab during this next funding cycle.”

Many of the research findings apply throughout the world, including here in the United States, while the field work is performed in Senegal and Ghana in Western Africa, and Uganda and Malawi in Eastern and Southern Africa.

New Trends And Peanuts

The National Peanut Board returned to the Culinary Institute of America at COPIA in Napa, California, to discuss the future of food during the annual Next Gen Food Summit. This event brings the industry together – professional chefs, recipe developers, food service directors, consumer package goods brands, as well as notable food media and content creators – to learn and adapt to the tastes of the next generation.

During the two-day event, current food trends, such as being more globally focused and socially aware, as well as being more adventurous with food, were offered as the hallmarks of this generation.

Also during the event, Flavor & The Menu Publisher and Editor-in-Chief, Cathy Nash-Holley presented the Top 10 Food Trends with concepts that incorporate peanuts, such as Thai mashups, afternoon snacking and Asian-inspired breakfasts. 

NPB marketing and communications associate Lindsay Stevens and consultant Valeri Lea of Sherman Moritz hosted a future of food panel featuring: Thomas Adams, NPB alternate board member; Kristina Cho, cookbook author, recipe developer and content creator; Pyet DeSpain, global private chef and winner of the TV show Next Level Chef; Jaclyn London, registered dietitian and podcast host; and Chelsea Lindbeck, director of product development for Better Body Foods. Chef Pyet DeSpain did a cooking demonstration using peanuts in various ways. 

Peanut farmer Thomas Adams of Alabama provided inside knowledge on how peanuts are grown and harvested and Sherry Coleman Collins, MS, RDN, LD presented about access and affordability across the food system.

The event concluded with a fun and interactive Market Basket Challenge. Attendees were given limited ingredients and asked to create a dish that reflected the summit discussions and incorporated a variety of peanut formats.

Summer Conference Planned

The 24th annual Southern Peanut Growers Conference is scheduled for July 27-29, 2023, at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort in Miramar Beach, Florida. Hosted by the Georgia Peanut Commission and the grower associations in Florida, Alabama and Mississippi, the three-day event covers legislation, production, marketing and promotion. 

The theme this year is “Building on our Strengths.” Room reservations at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort can be made online at www.Sandestin.com/24o19r or by calling 800-320-8115. For information, go to www.southernpeanutfarmers.org.

New Logo For North Carolina

The North Carolina Peanut Growers Association is celebrating 70 years of serving the state’s peanut producers in 2023, so there is no better time to unveil a new look. The consumer-focused logo represents three components of the peanut plant and also symbolizes three missions: advocacy, research and promotion. Additionally, the logo includes the words nutritious and flavorful, two unique identifiers of the Virginia-type peanuts widely grown in North Carolina. 

“It is an exciting time to be in the peanut industry,” says Ashley Collins, NCPGA chief executive officer. “Our growers produce more than just a commodity; peanuts are an affordable, plant-based protein source and a versatile ingredient in the food industry. Our 70th anniversary is an excellent opportunity to launch a new identity that is more relevant to today’s consumer audience and will generate demand for North Carolina-grown peanuts.”

North Carolina’s approximately 650 growers ended the 2022 season with an average yield of 4,260 pounds per acre. 

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