Fighting For Agriculture

July 22, 2011

The lovely and talented advocate for agriculture Michele Payn-Knoper put on the gloves to teach the peanut industry some new moves in the fight for the hearts and minds of consumers as the keynote luncheon speaker at the 2011 SPGC.

Michele is a professional speaker and farmer from Indiana who “works to connect the farm gate to consumer plate through programs in agricultural advocacy, social media strategy, the translation of farm to food and grassroots marketing.” She’s also the founder of the AgChat Foundation, developed to help farmers and ranchers learn to connect communities through social media platforms.

“We have to engage with the 98 and a half percent of the population who are not farmers,” she said, encouraging the peanut growers to use the social media tools available like Facebook and Twitter and YouTube. “Just use your smart phone and shoot a little video the next time you’re out in the field and throw it up on YouTube,” she told them.

To illustrate how the agriculture industry needs to fight for itself, Michele brought some peanut industry representatives up on the stage and taught them some kickboxing moves. It was pretty darn funny and now, yep, it’s on YouTube!

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Mississippi Still the New Kid on the Block

July 22, 2011

The Mississippi Peanut Growers Association is still the “new kid on the block” at the Southern Peanut Growers Conference, even though they have been involved since 2006. Because Malcolm Broome is the newest of the executive directors charged with planning the conference, the running joke this year was that he got blamed for anything that went wrong!

Malcolm says being involved with conference has been great for the Mississippi peanut industry. “Worked to our advantage a lot, gave us contact with a lot bigger audience and we’ve been just tickled to death to be a part of it,” he told me.

There’s about 120 peanut farms in Mississippi now and one buying point, according to Malcolm. “We’re beginning to see some growth now where Louisiana and Arkansas bump up to Mississippi,” he said. “With the price of peanuts like they are, folks are interested in planting more acres.”

Listen to my interview with Malcolm by clicking on the link.

Listen To MP3Malcolm Broome Interview (MP3)

13th Annual Southern Peanut Growers Conference Photo Album


Playing for More Than Peanuts

July 22, 2011

The compassion of the southern peanut industry toward victims of this year’s devastating tornadoes was on display at the SPGC Casino Night to raise more money for Peanut Proud relief efforts.

When Peanut Proud president LeaJean Manry showed a video of the tornado-ravaged areas where they have helped out this year, there was hardly a dry eye in the house. SPGC attendees contributed at least $2000 in cash during the Casino Night, in addition to a check for over $3200 that was presented by the Williston Florida FFA and the Florida Peanut Producers Association.

This video will make you not only feel proud of the people in the peanut industry, but just proud to be an American!

13th Annual Southern Peanut Growers Conference Photo Album


USDA Official Talks Trade at Peanut Meeting

July 22, 2011

Increasing global demand for food will keep world agricultural trade on the forefront for U.S. producers well into the foreseeable future.

“You’re talking about farmers getting anywhere from 25% to 33% of their income from products being sold overseas,” said USDA Global Analysis and Policy Division Deputy Director Daniel Whitley in an interview with Randall Weiseman of Southeast AgNet after his presentation at the SPGC. “These times are prosperous and we’re expecting them to continue over the long term.”

Listen to Randall’s conversation with him here:

Listen To MP3Daniel Whitley Interview (MP3)

13th Annual Southern Peanut Growers Conference Photo Album


Kelley Manufacturing CEO Receives Valor Award

July 22, 2011

E. Lanier Carson (right), CEO of Kelley Manufacturing Company (KMC), received this year’s Valor Award at the Southern Peanut Growers Conference from Valent’s John Altom.

Presenting the award, John noted that since Lanier started working with KMC in 1972 as a production engineer, he has seen many changes to the equipment used to harvest peanuts. “His first experience with peanuts was feeding a stationary peanut thrasher from the stack poles and bagging the peanuts from the thrasher. Through his years at KMC he has witnessed the expansion from a two-row digger shaker inverter to a 4-row, 6-row and 8-row equipment that has improved efficiency and reduced costs for the farmers.”

KMC introduced the first two-row peanut combine in 1987, unveiled the 4-row combine in 1989 and the 6-row combine in 1993. In 2000, the first Unload-on-the-Go for combines and dump carts was developed specifically for peanut harvesting.

Valent sponsors the Valor award at the SPGC each year to a person in the peanut industry with the “strength of mind or spirit that enables a person to encounter danger with firmness.” Congratulations, Lanier!

13th Annual Southern Peanut Growers Conference Photo Album


MANA From Peanuts

July 22, 2011

Kind of like the Israelites received manna from heaven to keep them from starving in the desert, malnourished children in the world are getting needed nutrition through MANA from peanuts.

Mark Moore, CEO of MANA Nutrition explained how at the Southern Peanut Growers Conference. “MANA stands for Mother Administered Nutritive Aid and our vision is that we can put this peanut paste product in the hands of moms” so they can feed it to their children who might otherwise die of severe acute malnutrition, Mark says.

The product itself is called by another acronym – RUTF, or Ready to Use Therapeutic Food. Basically, RUTF is peanut butter mixed with fortified milk in an over-sized ketchup packet On average, three packets a day for six weeks will revive a child, getting him or her back to normal nutritive levels, healthy, responsive and happy.

Randall Weiseman with Southeast AgNet interview Mark for us and you can find out more in this conversation and also from the MANA Nutrition website.

Listen To MP3Mark Moore Interview (MP3)

13th Annual Southern Peanut Growers Conference Photo Album


Support Needed for Land Grant Universities

July 22, 2011

The deans of the agriculture colleges for the major land grant universities in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi all attended the 2011 Southern Peanut Growers Conference Friday to deliver the same message – funding for agricultural research is down at a time when it is needed more than ever before.

Pictured here, from left to right, Dr. George Hopper with Mississippi State University, Dr. Scott Angle of University of Georgia, Dr. William Batchelor with Auburn University, and Dr. Joseph Joyce of University of Florida each presented the sobering news that money for extension, education and research is continuing to decline. Despite that, they are all optimistic about the future of the system, simply because it is so necessary to feed a growing population.

“The land grant model is still viable, still important to producers, but the funding mechanism is under stress and we’re all looking for new ways to leverage resources,” said Dr. Joyce.

Dr. Batchelor notes that agriculture is going to have to double food production within the next 39 cropping seasons in order to feed the growing global middle class. “It’s a daunting challenge for a dean of a college of agriculture to develop programs to do that,” he said.

“Whether it’s at the federal or state level, all land grant universities’ budgets are under challenge, despite the fact that we need to grow more food and train more students,” said Dr. Angle.

“We need your help,” said Dr. Hopper. “If you believe in the land grant universities, we need your help.”

He urged the peanut industry to help by letting their legislators know the importance of agricultural research, both on the state and federal level, and also by recruiting young people for the future of the industry.

Listen to brief comments from each of the deans here:

Listen To MP3Land Grant University Agriculture College Deans (MP3)

13th Annual Southern Peanut Growers Conference Photo Album