Peanuts at the End of the Rainbow

July 22, 2013

spgc13-rainbowThe last day of the 2013 Southern Peanut Growers Conference started with a rainbow over stormy Gulf waters and ended with the annual dinner and entertainment sponsored by Syngenta.

The weather was unpredictable enough that the golf tournament had to be canceled but there was sunshine on the beach much of the day. The rainbow in the morning was a nice reminder of God at work in our lives, despite the appearance of stormy seas.

spgc13-lyleThanks to all of the sponsors who made the 15th annual SPGC a great success. Special thanks to DuPont Crop Protection for sponsoring the golf tournament, even though it was canceled, and to Syngenta for the traditional fabulous finale to the event.

All of the audio and photos have been posted and updated. Please check it out and share with your friends. Wishing you the reminder of rainbows until we meet again in 2014!

2013 SPGC Photo Album


Sustaining Farm Policy for Peanuts

July 21, 2013

spgc13-redding-conwayA policy update on the farm bill, or lack of one, was given by Congressman Mike Conaway (R-TX) and peanut industry lobbyist Bob Redding (left) during the final session of the 2013 SPGC.

Rep. Conaway, a member of the House Agriculture Committee, says there has been no shortage of controversy in this farm bill. “Convention wisdom was that you needed to keep the nutrition title and the farm bill per se together in order to gain enough votes in the House to get the bill passed,” he said. “So we went with conventional wisdom, we took it to the floor and we failed.”

The situation now is a farm-only bill passed out of the House and a combined bill from the Senate going to conference, but Conaway says the House still intends to get a nutrition bill passed. “We’ll have a nutrition title and it will have reforms in it…probably stronger reforms than what we had in the one that passed out of committee.”

The congressman believes that the threat of a presidential veto of a farm-only bill makes no sense. “If we strip the nutrition title out and nothing at all happens to nutrition, why would you veto the bill?”

Listen To MP3Rep. Conaway Interview (MP3)

Redding talked about what the bills going into conference contain for peanuts.

“In the Senate bill we’ve got a $523.77 target price, direct payments in both bills are eliminated,” he said. “In the House bill, the target price is $535, marketing loan for both bills stays the same.”

Redding says “the potential for insignificance” is the biggest threat to agriculture in Congress going forward, noting that the retirement of Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia will be a great loss for peanut producers in particular. “That senate seat will be key for our Southeastern future,” he said.

Listen To MP3Bob Redding Farm Bill Comments (MP3)

2013 SPGC Photo Album


Peanuts Up for ARMS

July 21, 2013

The last time peanuts were the subject of a USDA Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS) was 2004 but soon those outdated figures for peanut farmers financial and crop production practices will be updated.

spgc13-usda“This is a crucial time for us to get the information from the peanut industry because there’s been a lot of changes since 2004,” said Shiela Corley, Manager of the Environmental & Economic Surveys Section for USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). “We have three different phases. We just finished up the first phase and the second phase will be looking at chemicals, fertilizer use, production practices, pest management practices. Then we’ll come back in winter/early spring 2014 and ask about economic issues.” The ultimate goal is to get a total economic picture of the industry.

Listen To MP3Interview with Shiela Corley (MP3)

USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) is also involved in this survey and Dr. William McBride is leader of the Commodity Cost and Return Estimation Project. “We do estimates for 12 different commodities on a rotating basis and we’re doing peanuts this year,” he said.

Dr. McBride says the data collected in this survey is important for growers because it is used in policy decision making processes at both state and federal levels. “Cost of production is a piece of information that really helps,” he said. “This information goes a long way in informing policy makers…so all commodities can be compared on an even basis.”

He stresses that all personal information collected from farmers is completely confidential and is only reported and made public in aggregate form and he urges all growers who are contacted to respond as quickly as possible so they can meet their goal of 100% participation.

Listen To MP3Interview with William McBride (MP3)

2013 SPGC Photo Album


2013 Farm Press Profitability Winners

July 21, 2013

spgc13-profitabilityThree regional winners of the 14th annual Farm Press Peanut Profitability Awards were honored Saturday morning at the SPGC, but one was unable to be there to accept this year.

Southwest Region winner Murray Phillips of Pearsall, Texas had to stay back home on the farm, but you can read all about him and the other two winners in the latest edition of Farm Press.

Southeast Farm Press Editor Paul Hollis (far left) presented the southeast region award this year to the gentleman standing next to him – Tim McMillan of Enigma, Georgia. Tim, who is a seventh generation farmer with his brother Steve, says 2012 was the most perfect peanut producing year ever. “It was one of the years you dream about having,” he said. His yields were the highest he has ever had at 5,732 pounds dryland and 5,991 irrigated.

Associate Editor Roy Roberson (far right) presented the Virginia Carolina Region award to Jart Hudson of Turkey, NC who also had a very good year in 2012, although not a record. “We had yields around the 4400 range, all dryland,” said Jart. “It was a little above average but we have made higher.”

The award is not just about yields, it’s about profitability and both winners mentioned timeliness – for everything – as one of their keys to profitability.

Listen to my interview with Tim and Jart here: Listen To MP3Interview with 2013 Profitability Award Winners (MP3)

2013 SPGC Photo Album


Changes Coming for the UGA Peanut Team

July 21, 2013

spgc13-peanut-teamMost folks in the peanut industry know the guy in the suit pictured here with a few other members of the University of Georgia Peanut Team. But as of the end of this year, Dr. John Beasley will be retiring from UGA after 30 years to become head of the Department of Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences at Auburn University on January 1, 2014.

“It’s the department where I got my bachelor’s degree a very long time ago,” said John. “It will be a change for me. I’ve been a peanut agronomist for a long time.” In his new position, John will have a role in all kinds of crops grown in the region, but he says he will still be involved in the peanut industry and expects to be at the SPGC next year.

Unfortunately, John won’t be continuing his role with the Georgia Peanut Achievement Club, which inducted its newest high-yielding members during the SPGC, but he leaves the program in good shape.

Listen To MP3Interview with Dr. John Beasley (MP3)

2013 SPGC Photo Album


Peanut Production Sustainability

July 21, 2013

spgc-13-panelProduction techniques and disease management were among the topics explored during a session on Production Sustainability at the 2013 SPGC.

Kip Balkcom with USDA/ARS at Auburn University discussed some of the sustainable production techniques farmers are using now and could be using in the future. He says sustainable production boils down to three things, “minimize surface tillage, utilize cover crops and extend crop rotations.” Listen To MP3Kip Balkcom comments (MP3)

Bob Kemerait with the University of Georgia Peanut Team talked about more sustainable methods of disease management for growers. “We’re talking about the judicious use of nematicides, fungicides and insecticides to feed the world,” he said. Listen To MP3Bob Kemerait comments (MP3)

2013 SPGC Photo Album


BASF Acquisition Opens New Grower Options

July 21, 2013

spgc13-basf-teamBASF has been a big supporter of the Southern Peanut Growers Conference and so has Becker Underwood – but this year the two are a single team together.

With the acquisition of Becker Underwood, VAULT as a peanut inoculant is a very important product we’re looking forward to launching from the BASF platform,” said southeast BASF rep Chris Maurer (left). “We have some really exciting seed treatments but now also having the inoculants gives us another avenue on to the farm to help growers get the most out of every acre.”

Of course, BASF products like Headline and Cadre remain important products for peanut growers, but BASF is always looking ahead to new and innovative products in the pipeline.

“Innovation has always been a key part of BASF as a company,” Chris said. “We believe innovation is what keeps the company sustainable” and the farmers too!

Listen To MP3Interview with Chris Maurer, BASF (MP3)

2013 SPGC Photo Album