By Clint Thompson
A collection of Southeast peanut farmers and industry leaders at the Southern Peanut Growers Conference last weekend allowed for in-depth talks and discussion centered around topics pertinent to the industry’s future. The Farm Bill was especially emphasized.
Ken Barton, executive director of the Florida Peanut Producers Association, discussed the importance of growers attending these events and providing input to industry leaders.
“One topic of discussion that’s pretty important to farmers right now is the upcoming Farm Bill. We’re looking at programs, what may be coming down the pike that will assist us with the safety net or might adversely affect us. That’s something that farmers are paying close attention to and we’re having a lot of discussion about it,” said Barton.
“You don’t want just the leadership making these decisions. We want input from every farmer out there. ‘How is this program going to affect me and my farm?’ The only way we know is events like this where we can get those farmers together and get some input and see what fits and what’s the best safety net method for me on my particular farm. Then you compile all of that data and produce the best thing that fits with the majority of the farmers.”
Don Koehler, executive director of the Georgia Peanut Commission, echoed Barton’s sentiments.
“We actually have a survey we’re doing for Dr. Stanley Fletcher that we gave to all of the producers. We’re trying to look at the costs. I’ve had farmers tell me that their fuel prices are up 100% from last year. Their fertilizer prices more than doubled. Equipment is up 25%. Repairs are up 25%. Their costs have gone up all over the place,” Koehler said. “The numbers we get from them and assembled by Dr. Fletcher are the same numbers that we’ll use as we go into the farm bill to defend continuing a program and maybe even making improvements to the program in Washington.”
Having growers supply input is an important step in formation of legislation that will last five years.
“It is extremely important for us to be observant and be proactive on the Farm Bill because we have to offer our input well in advance of them writing a farm bill. That’s what we’re trying to do now; find out what the growers want and try to include that. We have been reasonably successful in the past and we’re trying to build on that,” said Carl Sanders, president of the Alabama Peanut Producers Association.