Saturday, February 24, 2024

News Briefs: May 2023

In Brief: Industry members talk about rising input costs to Washington, D.C. leaders. USDA opens grant applications for renewable energy systems and efficiency improvements. Support calls for continued RUTF funding with ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.  Several industry segments make plans for summer meetings.  Mars Wrigley personnel talks about consumer snacking trends. Ron Sholar retires from the Oklahoma Peanut Commission.

Industry Members Talk Farm Bill, Donate Peanut Butter

Representatives from the U.S. Peanut Federation recently traveled to Washington, D.C. for their annual spring fly-in. During the trip, USPF representatives met with key members of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, as well as senior agricultural staff, to discuss issues facing the peanut industry.

The USPF fly-in is essential to connect with Congress about peanut industry priorities, especially the Farm Bill, which is up for reauthorization in 2023. During their meetings, representatives discussed the rising costs of production for peanuts, the Price Loss Coverage program and the priorities for the 2023 Farm Bill. 

The group also combined advocacy with service during the trip, donating more than 10,000 jars of peanut butter to the Capital Area Food Bank. USPF representatives were able to visit the food bank and hear firsthand how this donation will positively impact families in the local community. 

Molly McGlinchy, deputy chief of programs and innovation at the Capital Area Food Bank, expressed appreciation to the peanut industry representatives in attendance.

“On behalf of the staff, the volunteers and the folks we serve, I want to say thank you for this donation,” McGlinchy said. “We recognize that protein is a critical nutrient at all ages and all stages of life for the individuals that we serve, and peanut butter is the perfect vehicle for providing that nutrient.”

Representatives said the donated peanut butter would be distributed quickly to children, families and the elderly in the community. 

“Peanut butter is one of the most requested food items at food banks due to its long shelf life,” said Georgia Peanut Commission board member Ross Kendrick. “Peanuts are a nutritional superfood, containing more protein than any other nut and are a great source of Vitamin E and folate. We are grateful to partner with Peanut Proud and the Capital Area Food Bank to ensure that those affected by food insecurity can have access to safe, nutritional food and delicious peanut butter.”

CAFB works to address hunger for the half-million neighbors across the region experiencing food insecurity. They also work in partnership with organizations across the region to address hunger’s root causes by pairing food with other critical services.

The USPF is comprised of the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation, the American Peanut Shellers Association and the National Peanut Buying Points Association. USPF serves as a unified voice in Washington, D.C. for all sectors of the peanut industry and advocates actively for strong agricultural policy. 

USDA: $1 Billion For Renewable Energy, Efficiency Improvements

U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently announced that USDA is accepting applications for $1 billion in grants to help agricultural producers and rural small businesses invest in renewable energy systems and make energy-efficiency improvements. The grants are available under the Rural Energy for America Program with funding from the Inflation Reduction Act.

Recipients may use REAP funds to install renewable energy systems or to make energy-efficiency improvements. Eligible applicants include rural small businesses and agricultural producers. USDA will hold competitions quarterly through Sept. 30, 2024. The funding will also include the creation of the first underutilized technology fund in the REAP program, with $144.5 million available in dedicated funding.

USDA is particularly interested in REAP projects that will help rural communities recover economically through more and better market opportunities and improving infrastructure, reduce climate pollution and increase resilience to the impacts of climate change, conserve and protect farmland, and invest in underserved communities.

The maximum federal share which may be requested is up to 50% of the total project cost for all energy-efficiency projects and zero-emissions renewable energy systems. An award of up to 50% of the total project cost is also available for any project in a designated energy community and/or submitted by an eligible tribal entity. All other projects are eligible to apply for grants of up to 25% of the total project cost. The maximum grant is $1 million for renewable energy systems and $500,000 for energy-efficiency projects.

Reps. Request RUTF Funding

U.S. Representative Austin Scott (R-GA) along with Reps. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Young Kim (R-CA) are teaming up to request funding in the fiscal year 2024 agriculture and state foreign operations bills to maintain the scaled-up procurement and distribution of ready-­to-use therapeutic foods to address global food insecurity and malnutrition that has been exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

RUTF — a simple medical food paste made of peanuts, powdered milk, vegetable oils, soy, sugar and multivitamins — is the gold standard treatment for severe malnutrition. Congress took critical action to address this worsening global food security crisis by providing $5 billion in emergency food security funding in the second Ukraine assistance supplemental bill that was enacted in May. 

The surge in resources enables USAID and UNICEF to significantly increase treatment coverage for millions of children. The ongoing conflict in Ukraine has prevented millions of tons of grain from leaving Ukrainian ports over the past year. The eight countries most dependent upon Ukrainian and Russian wheat are all in Sub-Saharan Africa. The United States produces and distributes therapeutic foods to save the lives of millions of children around the globe. 

Alabama Promotes Peanuts At The State Capital 

Alabama Peanut Producers Association celebrated March National Peanut Month with a proclamation from Governor Kay Ivey at the Alabama Capitol and a peanut day at the Alabama state house. 

Carl Sanders, APPA president and Coffee County farmer, and APPA board member Billy Hixon, a Pike County farmer, led the House of Representatives in the prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of their session. Garrett Dixon, APPA young farmer representative from Lee County, led the Senate in the pledge at the beginning of their session. 

Throughout the morning, APPA board members and Alabama Farmers Federation staff handed out cans of chocolate-covered Alabama peanuts to legislators and talked with them about topics concerning Alabama peanut farmers.

55th Annual APRES Meeting in Savannah, Georgia

Registration is now open for the 55th American Peanut Research and Education Society Annual Meeting, July 11-13, 2023, Savannah, Georgia. The APRES Annual Meeting shares original research, Extension and industry peanut project results in a three-day meeting via business and social settings. World and industry leaders speak on the most pressing issues of our time. 

This year’s meeting will focus on “Scanning the Horizon.” The past two years have provided plenty of information on what we should expect from our industry. As we move forward, APRES ’55 will examine future factors facing the peanut industry and explore sustainable solutions.

To join APRES and learn more about the meeting, visit https://apresinc.com. 

USA Peanut Congress Plans Set

American Peanut Council and American Peanut Shellers Association members and company representatives are invited to attend the 27th annual USA Peanut Congress, June 12-15, at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, Florida. A block of rooms is being held for conference guests at a special group rate. 

Take advantage of early bird registration rates available to members until May 8. Register for the convention, book a room, view a tentative schedule and access sponsorship and exhibitor forms at www.peanut-shellers.org.

Mars Wrigley Leading The Snack Industry 

Anne-Marie DeLorenzo, Mars Wrigley senior strategic sourcing manager, says snacking is a deeply ingrained behavior with generational tailwinds. She says 70% of all consumers have a snack every day, many consumers have a snack an average of three times per day and 66% of consumers have an indulgent snack at least one time per week. DeLorenzo spoke at the American Peanut Shellers Association industry spring conference in March. 

DeLorenzo says the philosophy of privately owned Mars Wrigley is that the world we want tomorrow starts with how we do business today. 

“The way to success is a strong financial performance, trusted partners, quality growth and a positive societal impact,” she says. 

Brand building is successful for Mars Wrigley with five $1 billion-dollar brands, and soon to be six with KIND snacks.

Another goal DeLorenzo says that Mars Wrigley has put at the forefront, “We have put sustainability at the core of our business. Sustainability is an ‘entry ticket’ expectation for our business partners.” Their “Sustainable in a Generation Plan” features interconnected ambitions — informed by science — that will allow the company to address significant environmental and social changes facing the planet.

School Nutrition Magazine Features Allergen Message: “Plan, Don’t Ban”

Managing food allergies is an important part of conducting a school nutrition program. In past years, banning peanuts, tree nuts and other foods was one way that some schools approached this issue. Taking potential allergens off the menu was viewed as easily reducing risk. However, recent guidelines, based on research and expert opinion, now recommend against food allergen bans at schools. Moreover, bans create a false sense of security while limiting flexibility for school nutrition programs already struggling with supply chain issues.

In a recent issue of School Nutrition Magazine, “Plan, Don’t Ban,” by Dylan Roche, he took a deep dive into this issue. The author interviewed Sherry Coleman Collins, registered dietitian nutritionist and consultant for National Peanut Board, as well as school nutrition leaders Cindy Kanarek Culver of Marietta City Schools, Georgia, and Amy Carroll of School District of Lee County, Florida, to get their take on this issue. Both Culver and Carroll stress the importance of using an evidence-based approach, training staff, educating their students and stakeholders and managing food allergies as part of an overall approach to dietary restrictions.

Not only should bans be avoided, but school nutrition professionals like these recognize that peanuts and peanut butter can be a delicious way to serve their students foods they love. In addition to favorite PB&J sandwiches, peanuts can tap into popular trends like global flavors. In this same issue of School Nutrition Magazine, NPB’s recipe for Savory Chicken Shawarma Bowl with peanut hummus was featured.

“Peanut butter is an ingredient that can really help solve a lot of problems,” says Collins. “By unnecessarily restricting it, schools are weakening programs. They could be providing a food that is nutritious and affordable, that kids love and fits into their menu in a lot of different ways.”

For more information and resources for managing peanuts in K-12 foodservice, visit PeanutsinSchools.org.

Ron And Linda Sholar Honored At The 2023 Oklahoma Peanut EXPO

Honoring the retirement of Ron Sholar from the Oklahoma Peanut Commission are (from left) Joel Hicks, John Clay, Joe D. White, Linda Sholar, Ron Sholar, Anthony Reed, Les Crall, Art Kell.

Ron Sholar and his wife, Linda, were recognized by Oklahoma Peanut Commissioner Chairman Les Crall at the Oklahoma Peanut EXPO held in Weatherford, Oklahoma, March 23, 2023. Sholar retired as executive director of the Oklahoma Peanut Commission, March 31, 2023. 

Sholar is a native of Tennessee, but he and Linda have proudly called Stillwater, Oklahoma, home for the past 50 years. He received a Bachelor of Science in agriculture sciences from the University of Tennessee in June 1971. He received his Master of Science and doctorate degrees at Oklahoma State University. He then severed as a professor of plant and soil science and Extension agronomist at OSU.

He also had a military career that spanned 39 years of active service with the Army Reserve. He was promoted to Major General in 2003 and over the following years had three different assignments as a division level Commander. His final assignment was Deputy Commanding General of the US Army Command. He retired from the Army in 2010.

For the past decade he has served as executive director of several agricultural commissions including the Oklahoma Peanut Commission. Ron and Linda have served the commission by promoting peanuts and peanut products in Oklahoma.

Peanut acres have increased in Oklahoma in the past decade with 16,795 acres in 2022.

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