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Peanut Farmers Debate Provisions for 2018 Farm Bill

Abbey Taylor Farm Bill, Legislative, Peanuts

By Jaci Schreckengost

Provisions from the 2014 farm bill had lasting effects on peanut farmers in the Southeast. However, farmers are debating whether those effects were positive or negative.

On June 24, a listening session was hosted in Gainesville, Florida, by the House Agriculture Committee to discuss the creation of the 2018 farm bill.

“You hit a homerun. You wrote the right program in the last farm bill,” said Don Koehler, executive director of the Georgia Peanut Commission. He explained that because of the provisions in the 2014 farm bill, peanut farmers have had stability, growth and an increase in sales. Koehler argued that farmers all across America depend on the program the way it is.

“Remember that the program we have is working,” Koehler said. “Don’t take the attitude that … some folks have a goat and others don’t, and decide to kill the goat. Keep the goat. Let’s get more goats.”

On the other side of this argument is Kelly Philman of 83 Farms in Bell, Florida, who said the farm bill needs to take the next generation into consideration.

“In 2002, I grew and harvested 300 acres of peanuts. From there, the business grew, and today we tend to 10,000-plus acres, not by choice. That’s a lot of risk. But under the provisions of the 2014 farm bill, we’ve had to increase acres to be sustainable,” said Philman, adding that farmers are forced to overwork to be sustainable and make enough to cover their bills.

“We won’t have a future if we stay under these same provisions, and that’s what I’m asking for you to consider — the next generation,” Philman told the House Agriculture Committee.

These were just two of the voices on the differing sides of the peanut provisions for the 2018 farm bill. To listen to the comments of these peanut farmers, as well as many others who voiced their farm bill concerns and comments, tune in to the complete listening session here.

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