The Georgia Peanut Commission (GPC) applauds the efforts of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service final rule (7 CFR Part 996) published in the Federal Register to revise the minimum quality and handling standards for domestic and imported peanuts marketed in the United States. This rule implements a recommendation from the Peanut Standards Board to raise the grading score used to classify farmer stock peanuts as Segregation 2 from 2.49 percent to 3.49 percent.
This final rule becomes effective Feb. 1, 2018. This effort will benefit American peanut farmers who have been affected by having their crop graded as Segregation 2.
The Peanut Standards Board, authorized under the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002, consists of 18 members representing the peanut-growing regions of the U.S. The United States Department of Agriculture consults with the board to establish or change quality and handling standards for domestically produced and imported peanuts.
The revisions are necessary due to the changes made in the 2002 Farm Bill’s peanut provisions. There were significant changes made in moving from the old quota program to the current peanut program but the definitions of Segregation 1, Segregation 2 and Segregation 3 for farmer stock peanuts were not changed. However, the definition for what farmer stock peanuts could be used in the domestic edible channel was changed.
“I applaud efforts by USDA to update the peanut standards and raise the grading score. A farmer having a majority of their crop graded as Segregation 2 is an economic devastation which could lead to bankruptcy while the true value seems to be significantly higher,” says Armond Morris, chairman of the Georgia Peanut Commission. “This change will greatly reduce the burden on peanut growers. A similar action was granted to the peanut processors last year on outgoing regulations so it only makes sense growers should be afforded the same revision in the rules.”
From a nationwide perspective, Segregation 2 peanuts usually constitute less than 1 percent of the entire U.S. crop. Peanut growers, however, have experienced some very challenging weather conditions in recent years, especially with rain at harvest time, which has increased the percentage of peanuts being graded as Segregation 2s. This adjustment to the grading score will not affect the quality of peanuts being delivered to the market.