Saturday, June 21, 2008

USDA Meeting Anything but Encouraging

We met with USDA and a host of people from the peanut industry yesterday in Washington and some by a terrible conference call connection. The meeting was anything but encouraging to me that there is an administrative fix to the effort of some in the Department to try to cut the loan rate significantly on 80% of our production.

The meeting which started with USDA saying they never intended to do this for this year...well I felt lied to right off the bat because they sent out a document and also had a meeting with Ag Committee Staffers that said it was already a done deal and then sent out a subsequent notice that they decided not to do it for 2008. At that point I lost what little shred of trust I may have had left in what used to be the "People's Department." That is gone now. It is now the Department that looks out for the best interest of Big Business. If growers are not benefitting then someone else must be and I can assure you it won't be the consumer.

Of special note was the deafening silence of the Shellers on this issue. I guess they think that one more variable just gives them some sort of advantage or something.

Also, the lobbyist for the Manufacturers and the Western Peanut Growers (he is one and the same by the way) informed the Department of an effort to fix this through the Approps Bill in DC. Smart men don't usually tell the enemy their point of attack so I guess the Manufacturers and Western Growers are in cahoots with the Department on this.

They kept saying they wanted input but why didn't they have this dialogue when we were discussing the farm bill. They said in the meeting they have been discussing this concept for about a year.

It is not encouraging that USDA has no clue that there is no place for a grower in the southeast to sell a Virginia Peanut. I guess they want us to destroy what little benefit the VC guys get from the market place because they have been more conservative in their plantings.

Another thing that puzzles me is that they have apparently been taking advice from a rogue county agent that cost our growers a double direct payment for disaster assistance.

The meeting was simply a stall tactic to get us past the Approps mark up but I hope we are not that stupid to believe that the Department will work with the Industry because they haven't since we changed the program and Charles Hatcher left USDA.

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