Southern Peanut Growers Conference Brings Industry Together

Clint Thompson Georgia Peanut Commission (GPC)

Photo by Clint Thompson/Shows Congressman Austin Scott speaking on Saturday at the Southern Peanut Growers Conference.

By Clint Thompson

The Southern Peanut Growers Conference informed and enlightened attendees at last week’s meeting about what is required for growers to remain sustainable now and into the future.

Libbie Johnson
Executive Director
Alabama Peanut Producers Association

The conference, held at the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort in Miramar Beach, Florida, included representatives from the Georgia Peanut Commission, Alabama Peanut Producers Association, Florida Peanut Producers Association and the Mississippi Peanut Growers Association. It featured topics pertaining to the use of commercial drones in helping producers be more efficient in making spray applications; peanut production for non-food purposes; and how the industry will be impacted by the looming Farm Bill.

First Time Attending as Executive Director

Libby Johnson attended for the first time as executive director of the Alabama Peanut Producers Association. She discussed the role the conference had in bringing industry leaders together from Georgia, Florida, Alabama and Mississippi, the states that comprise the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation.

“I have been to this conference before and participated as just a conference goer, but getting to serve as executive director for the Alabama Peanut Producers Association has put me in a different role and one where I’ve gotten to meet more producers, not just in Alabama, but also in Georgia and even more in Florida and Mississippi,” Johnson said. “I think that’s a really great thing about this conference. It brings these states together, and we’re all focused on the same project and that’s producing quality peanuts for the country.

“I really enjoyed Friday morning’s sessions, hearing the specialists talk from the universities but also some of the people from industry. Hearing Marshall Lamb is always an interesting thing for me but also for growers because he has an insight into the peanut industry that most people don’t,” Johnson said. “I really liked that he shared information about other uses for peanuts that they’re doing research on. I think the thought of peanuts for biodiesel makes more sense for people in the south than corn did.”

Saturday Speaker

Congressman Austin Scott (R-GA-08), who also serves as Vice Chair of the House Agriculture Committee and Chair of the Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities, Risk Management and Credit, spoke during Saturday’s session about the looming Farm Bill.

“I do think you’ll see a bill pass through the House. I think you’ll see a bill pass through the Senate. The big challenge is we have one-quarter of 1% of total federal funds is what the current projection is that we have to work with,” Scott said. “The problem is, the increased input costs for our farmers means that we have to raise reference prices or you basically don’t have any safety net at all. Everything that we knew, reference prices, loan values and all of those things cost money.

“Where we would like to expand insurance to some of the areas where all they have noninsurable crop assistance program, which really doesn’t do a whole lot, that takes money. I think if we look at it from a priority standpoint, the priority would be getting the reference price raised to reflect increased cost of production. I think loan values need to move significantly so that people who don’t have base acres have a safety net as well. If we’re able to get additional resources, I would love to see a significant increase in crop insurance products that are out there. That means that we’ve got to make more money available.”