Syngenta Sponsors Final Event for SPGC Record Crowd

July 24, 2011

Somewhere around 600 peanut farmers, industry friends and their families helped make the 2011 Southern Peanut Growers Conference one of the record books.

“We sold out more room nights than we’ve ever had, we had higher registration than we’ve ever had, and I really think we had one of the best conferences we’ve ever had,” said Don Koehler, executive director of the Georgia Peanut Commission.

Don says the growers came, despite the fact that dry conditions throughout the southern growing region are causing concerns. “I think there was some desire to just get away, I mean, you can’t make it rain!” said Don, pictured here with two grandsons enjoying the final night entertainment, sponsored by Syngenta.

Don notes that Syngenta has been a sponsor for the conference since the very beginning. “Syngenta’s been the anchor of this conference,” he said. “They were the first sponsor that came forward when we started this 13 years ago.”

Listen to my interview with Don here: Listen To MP3Don Koehler (MP3)

“Our sales reps have a relationship with these growers that’s second to none,” said Syngenta Peanut Crop Manager Scott Johnson. “It’s a good time to have fellowship and to learn the needs of the growers and of the industry.”

Listen to Scott explain why Syngenta supports SPGC by clicking on the link below:
Listen To MP3Scott Johnson, Syngenta (MP3)

13th Annual Southern Peanut Growers Conference Photo Album

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The Peanut Industry Through Jimmy Lee’s Lens

July 24, 2011

Jimmy Lee has been a fixture at peanut events around the southeast for many moons, as the former host of the Georgia Farm Monitor radio and TV shows, and since his second retirement about four years ago he continues visiting his friends in the peanut industry to do video.

Jimmy celebrated 50 years in broadcasting in June, 2005 and was inducted into the Georgia Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 2006. “I’ve met a lot of people and done a lot of interviews,” Jimmy told me. “We counted up at one point and we were about 50,000 interviews in all that time.” Among those interviews were three U.S. presidents and the Duke himself, John Wayne. From 1985-1997 he produced and hosted a weekly half-hour television program and a daily radio program for the Georgia Peanut Commission.

Jimmy says he’s stopped having birthdays and “doesn’t recommend” retirement, but he still stays busy and has a lot of fun.

Listen to my interview with Jimmy here: Listen To MP3Jimmy Lee (MP3)


Life and Times of the Peanut

July 24, 2011

A colorful and entertaining childrens’ book about the history of “one of our most beloved yet least understood crops” was included in the registration bags for participants at the 2011 SPGC, not for us to keep but to giveaway. The book is called “The Life and Times of the Peanut” by Charles Micucci.

One of our speakers talked about the need for farmers to promote their own image and their own product,” said Randy Griggs, executive director of the Alabama Peanut Producers Association. “And we included this book to reiterate what she said and we asked every participant to take that book back and donate it to a school, or church, or public library.”

Randy says the Alabama peanut producers discovered the book by chance and bought up every copy the publisher had to donate to schools and use for the state’s Ag in the Classroom program, but there are still some copies still to be found on-line! The author also has other agriculture-themed books, including “The Life and Times of Corn” and “The Life and Times of the Honeybee.”

Find out more about the book in my interview with Randy below.

Listen To MP3Randy Griggs (MP3)


BASF Proud to Support Peanut Producers

July 23, 2011

BASF has been a long time supporter of the Southern Peanut Growers Conference and sponsor of the Friday luncheon, but this year the company also stepped up to co-sponsor the Georgia Peanut Achievement Awards when their help for the yield recognition program was needed.

“These peanut growers are the best in the country, which makes them the best in the world,” said Sandy Newell, Tech Service Rep for Alabama and Georgia. “Peanuts are important for our business and we have a product line that’s important for producers, including Cadre and Headline and Prowl H2O,”

Listen To MP3Sandy Newell, BASF (MP3)

Newell says they were happy to jump on board to co-sponsor the Georgia achievement awards with Syngenta this year, when University of Georgia Extension Peanut Agronomist John Beasley called to ask for their support. John said he appreciates the willingness of the two companies to work together for the industry. “When it comes to supporting a program like this, they step forward, they forget about the fact that they are competitors and just support growers and their county agents,” he said.

John is pictured here with statewide winner Kreg Freeman of Colquitt, who was also the Southeast Peanut Profitability Award winner this year with a yield of 6626 pounds per acre. John says 8 of the 11 growers recognized in the Georgia Achievement Club this year had yields over three tons per acre, which shows the tremendous progress producers have made since the program was originally called the “Ton Per Acre Club” when it started 50 years ago!

Listen to my interview with John here: Listen To MP3UGA Peanut Agronomist John Beasley (MP3)

13th Annual Southern Peanut Growers Conference Photo Album


Farm Bill Discussion

July 23, 2011

Pending negotiations for the next Farm Bill dominated the discussion during the last general session at the SPGC on Saturday which focused on Challenges for Agriculture.

Congressman Stephen Fincher (R-TN) of the freshman class in the House of Representatives for 2010 would like to see the next Farm Bill delayed until after the 2012 election. “We’ve got to make sure as we approach writing a new Farm Bill that we’re very level-headed,” he said. “Farmers understand that we’ve all got to tighten our belts a little bit, but we can’t kid ourselves and think that we can balance the budget on the back of one percent of the budget, which is what ag gets.”

Fincher is a real minority in Congress as a 7th generation cotton farmer but he is proud to be able to represent agriculture and help to educate his colleagues about the importance of the industry. Listen to my interview with Rep. Fincher below:

Listen To MP3Congressman Stephen Fincher (MP3)

Mary Kay Thatcher with the American Farm Bureau Federation is a veteran when it comes to farm bills, having been through the process six times before, and she thinks we may actually see two new Farm Bills if the debt ceiling negotiations mean the kind of cuts they are considering for agriculture. “We’re unfortunately going to take a pretty fair amount of cuts this year, probably in the range of $30-40 billion out of the commodity and conservation titles,” she said. “If indeed we lose that much money, it will sort of require us to write a farm bill in the next couple of weeks, and then to write it next year for re-evaluating what we have left and looking the other titles.”

Listen to my interview with Mary Kay here: Listen To MP3Mary Kay Thatcher, AFBF (MP3)

Bob Redding, who represents the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation in Washington DC, says there has never been a more important time for farmers to have their voices heard in the nation’s capitol.

“Farmers need to keep up with what’s going on, let their congressmen and senators know exactly how they feel and what they would like to see in a farm bill,” Bob says.

Listen to my interview with Bob here: Listen To MP3Bob Redding (MP3)

13th Annual Southern Peanut Growers Conference Photo Album


Thanks to Blog Sponsors Ag Technologies and Trimble

July 23, 2011

This is the fourth year that we have brought the Southern Peanut Growers Conference to the world through the SPGC blog, thanks to the generous sponsorship of Ag Technologies and Trimble.

I talked with someone new this year – Robbie Tabb of Ag Technologies, pictured here on the far right with the rest of the crew that attended the conference. Robbie says they love coming to the conference and talking to peanut farmers about how they can help them be more efficient. “The southern peanut grower can stand to increase yield by 300-400 pounds per acre simply by having GPS,” he told me. “That’s why we’ve grown so much in the southeast is because of our peanut growers. They’ve really seen an increase in profitability just by having the guidance on the tractor.”

Robbie says they are happy to sponsor the conference blog each year to reach even growers who may not be able to attend the meeting. “The more people we can reach, the better,” he says.

Listen To MP3Robbie Tabb, Ag Technologies (MP3)


National Peanut Board at SPGC

July 23, 2011

The National Peanut Board is always a part of the Southern Peanut Growers Conference to keep producers updated on how their dollars are being spent for research and promotion.

NPB sponsors the Saturday morning Peanut Profitability Awards breakfast, where chairman George Jeffcoat of Alabama provided information on the latest projects. Later, I caught up with Ryan Lepicier, Vice President of Marketing and Communications for NPB, for an interview about what’s new.

Ryan says they have a new ad campaign stressing the nutrition of peanuts. “The ads focus on the fact that peanuts have more protein than any nut, peanuts are a nutrient rich food, and peanuts have more anti-oxidants than broccoli, carrots, or green tea,” he said. That certainly surprised me!

Listen to my interview with Ryan below.

Listen To MP3Ryan Lepicier, NPB (MP3)

13th Annual Southern Peanut Growers Conference Photo Album