“There are 26 republicans and 20 democrats. Sixteen republican members are freshman, and seven democrats have never served on the committee.”
Lucas said, “We are in a period of oversight, oversight, oversight. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is trying to over-regulate, and we have to rein them in and determine what is the federal law, what is the science behind any regulation and what is the economic impact?
“In agricultural appropriations, we know there will be less money. After all, we are $14 trillion in debt. We’ve asked the Chairman to give us a number and let us do our work. We will try to do more with less of our limited resources and maximize our returns,” he said. “We must set priorities.
“As for budgets, from 2008 until 2012 in agriculture, 75 percent is spent on nutrition programs…paying people to eat. But, we have to remember, it doesn’t matter how much you give if there is nothing on the shelf,” he said. “That’s where American farmers and ranchers come in. We must channel our limited money to traditional missions of helping farmers to keep farming.”
CRP Sign Up Until April 15
A general sign-up for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) started March 14, 2011, and will continue until April 15, 2011, at the Farm Service Agency. Farmers may offer eligible land for CRP’s competitive general sign-up. FSA will evaluate and rank eligible CRP offers using an Environmental Benefits Index (EBI) that shows the environmental benefits to be gained from enrolling the land in CRP. The EBI consists of five environmental factors – wildlife, water, soil, air and enduring benefits – and cost. The CRP continuous sign-up program is ongoing.
Georgia’s FSA director, Hobby Stripling, said, “Over the past 25 years, CRP’s benefits have grown thanks to many unexpected, but welcomed improvements to our natural resources – cleaner water, improved air quality, better habitat for wildlife, viewing opportunities of that wildlife and, of course, a huge reduction in soil erosion.”
Vilsack Brags On Ag’s Role In Recovery
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently outlined the impact that American farmers, ranchers and producers are having on the United States’ economic recovery by shattering agricultural trade records, creating jobs at home and ensuring affordable food for U.S. families.
Vilsack stressed the importance of agriculture to the nation’s economic resurgence and job growth. U.S. agriculture and related industries account for one in 12 jobs nationwide. Exports of U.S. farm goods – recently projected to smash previous records by $20 billion – create additional jobs. Every $1 billion in farm exports supports roughly 8,000 jobs in the United States. Farm exports alone will support more than one million jobs in 2011.
The Secretary challenged producer groups, as well as USDA staff, to continue to reach out to small and medium-sized producers with guidance and assistance on breaking into export markets. Vilsack pointed out that only one percent of U.S. companies export; yet, 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside the borders of the United States.
The Secretary suggested that the trade agreements now before the U.S. Congress would help to increase farm exports, support job creation and bolster the economy. Currently, trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia – nations with 100 million consumers – are being promoted.
Earlier Planting Now Possible
Scott Tubbs, University of Georgia cropping systems agronomist, recently told buying point managers that the newer varieties have a high level of resistance to Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus (TSWV), and producers should not hesitate to plant in late April instead of waiting until mid-May.
Producers need to wait until soil temperatures reach 65 degrees for several consecutive days. The three cultivars that have been strong performers and are resistant to TSWV are Georgia 06G, Georgia Greener and Georgia 07W.
Early on in the battle against TSWV, it was discovered that planting in mid-May instead of April favored less expression of the disease. Thrips were confirmed as a vector of the virus.
APC Outlines Food Safety Improvements
In a statement regarding the limited recall for six best-if-used-by date codes of Skippy Reduced Fat Creamy Peanut Butter Spread and Skippy Reduced Fat Super Chunk Peanut Butter Spread by Unilever, the American Peanut Council outlined improvements the industry has made in the area of food safety.
The APC reported that the American peanut industry has improved in three major areas of food safety: Prevention, Mitigation and Surveillance and Review. This three-tiered approach is very similar to the one that FDA has adopted in recent years.
Some of the improvements include expanding the industry’s Good Manufacturing Practices, collaborating with FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to provide food safety education and training to industry members and designing a special HACCP accredited food safety course for peanut processors in partnership with the University of Georgia’s Food Science Department.
These and other improvements are focused toward making the protection of the public health a top priority for our industry.
Temik May Be Unavailable For 2011
A temporary restraining order is affecting the production of a key intermediate used in the production of Sevin brand carbaryl and Temik brand aldicarb insecticides. Production was extended until March 28 to allow the court more time to decide the issue.
The delay will affect the ability of Bayer CropScience (BCS) to supply both brands to customers in a timely manner, according to an announcement from Bayer. The initial two-week temporary restraining order was granted by a federal judge on Feb. 10, in response to a lawsuit brought about by 16 residents of West Virginia who questioned the safe production of the intermediate, methyl isocyanate (MIC) at the Institute Industrial Park.
Recommendations for alternatives to this product can be found on page 11.
GPC Holds Assessment Referendum
The Georgia Peanut Commission is holding a mail-ballot referendum from March 15, 2011, until April 15, 2011, for peanut farmers to vote on increasing the assessment paid by growers from $2 to $3 per ton. The assessment funds programs of the commodity commission including promotion, research, education and communication.
The commission’s board of directors decided to hold the referendum after holding a public hearing in Tifton, on Feb. 9, regarding the proposal to increase the assessment by $1 per ton. The commission assessment has not been increased since 1980, when Georgia peanut producers voted to increase their assessment from $1 per ton to $2 per ton.
“It is imperative now more than ever to increase the assessment when you look at the various budget cuts agriculture is receiving on the national and state level,” says Armond Morris, GPC chairman. “We, as peanut farmers, need to fund more research to stay on the cutting edge of peanut production. In the peanut industry we have encountered tremendous damage this past year from the burrower bug and more research dollars are needed to help combat the pest.”
During the hearing, growers, a buying point representative, a peanut researcher and University of Georgia Extension administrator all spoke in favor of the increase. Only one grower submitted written testimony prior to the hearing in opposition.
One of the major reasons cited during the hearing for increasing the assessment focused on the need for more research. Decatur County peanut grower Jud Greene credited research funded by the peanut commission for the development of disease resistant varieties such as Georgia Green, which helped growers overcome tomato spotted wilt virus, and with new resistant varieties, like Tifguard, that will be even more important as growers lose products like Temik.
The GPC mailed ballots, with voting instructions, to all Georgia peanut producers on record by March 15. If you are a peanut grower in Georgia and did not receive a ballot, contact the GPC at 229-386-3470. For the referendum to pass at least 25 percent of all producers on record must submit a ballot and at least 66 and 2/3 percent of the ballots cast must be favorable.
For additional information on the GPC, visit www.gapeanuts.com.
Planters Looking For Naturally Remarkable Producers
Planters is looking to share the stories of remarkable farmers across the country. That’s why, together with the National Peanut Board and others, Planters is launching the Naturally Remarkable Planters Awards to recognize sustainable nut farmers in the United States and celebrate their environmentally and socially-responsible work.
Do you know a peanut farmer using new agricultural practices to reduce waste? How about one who is helping to improve his/her surrounding land and community? If so, we want to hear from you.
A panel of judges from the peanut industry, including agriculture academics and representatives from the National Peanut Board and USDA, will select three regional award winners (one representing the Southeast, Virginia-Carolinas and Southwest, respectively). The entries will be judged on:
• Sustainability: How the farmer treats the land, including the environmental and sustainable practices involved, and how socially sound he/she is in his/her local community.
• Effectiveness: The measurable results the farmer has made on his/her land.
• Originality: The inventiveness of the farmer’s work.
Winners will receive a three-day trip for themselves and up to three family members to New York City in August 2011 to attend a Planters “Naturally Remarkable” event (hotel and travel included) and will also be featured on Planters.com and Mr. Peanut’s Facebook page. In addition, Planters will donate $10,000 in the winner’s name towards a Planters “Naturally Remarkable” project to revitalize community land in the location of his/her choice in 2012.
Applications are due by April 15, 2011, and winners will be notified by June 30, 2011. The nomination application can be downloaded at www.PlantersAwards.com and sent by email to PlantersAwards@promotions.com or mailed to: Naturally Remarkable Planters Awards Program, P.O. Box 1382, Elmhurst, IL, 60126.
NPB: Menu Listings Increase 44 Percent In Four Years
The popularity of menu items with peanuts, peanut butter and peanut products is booming, according to recent data from Technomic. Peanut menu listings have increased an average of 44.4 percent from 2006 to 2010. Menus surveyed by Technomic MenuMonitor were from the top 500 restaurant chains, 117 emerging restaurant chains and 119 top independent restaurants.
“Consumer research has consistently shown that Americans prefer the flavor of peanuts and peanut butter,” said the National Peanut Board president and managing director Raffaela Marie Fenn. “And this recent data shows that along with high consumer preference, the culinary versatility, nutritional profile and value of peanuts and peanut products have a direct and positive effect on the nation’s leading restaurant menus.”
Individually, the Technomic data shows that the menu incidence of peanut butter grew 47.6 percent from 2006 to 2010. For peanuts, menu incidence rose 39.3 percent during the same period.
“The National Peanut Board frequently showcases new and innovative peanut uses and dishes to menu developers at popular restaurant chains,” said NPB Chairman George Jeff-coat.
“Through platforms such as culinary conferences and focused immersions, NPB highlights how peanut menu items benefit their operations and their customers.”
Recent menu additions include a Manchu duck small plate with hoisin, smoked bacon Asian cress and honey peanut vinaigrette at P.F. Chang’s China Bistro with over 200 locations throughout the U.S., and new menu additions at Houlihan’s, a casual restaurant with more than 100 outlets, including a peanut-ginger slaw side.
NPB has also helped high volume foodservice operators introduce new peanut items by facilitating food allergy management training. NPB most recently conducted a training Webinar for a popular 1,400 unit bakery café chain.
For more information, visit www.nationalpeanutboard.org.