Saturday, August 23, 2008

Busy Week

This has been a busy week with a lot of things happening at the Peanut Commission.

We had a meeting with Brad Day of the Chamber and the Development Authority to discuss the possible acquisition of the old state patrol location on I-75 to build a new GPC office which would become an educational and promotional facility for Georgia's peanut farmers. The Commission Board has decided to move forward with an offer on the property. We have studied the issue long and hard but the time is now to move forward.

We also had a board meeting and covered a lot of business. The Administration continues to offer challenges in the implementation of this farm bill. The 10 acre base exclusion has caused a lot of problems for a lot of farmers and is a way bigger issue than peanuts. Pennsylvania has the most farms affected.

After the board meeting we had a meeting of the industry-wide grading committee. We seemed stalled for so long and now I am encouraged that there is a great deal of movement toward improving peanut grading.

I think somewhere along the way things will slow down and let us catch our breath but farming is never that way and therefore the Peanut Commission finds itself in a similar situation with always something to do.

September is going to be a busy month with harvest beginning, the Georgia Peanut Tour, A Cotton and Peanut Research Tour, The Plains Peanut Festival, the Farm Bureau Peanut Day, and so much more. Also, our March of Dimes promotion starts this month. This has been one of our great partnerships to get the health and nutrition message to consumers.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

European Trip

I have been in Europe, actually Belgium and Holland this week. I flew out of Atlanta Saturday and arrived in Brussels Sunday. We met Monday and Tuesday with a company which manufactures sorting and scanning equipment and then Wednesday with the Ag Ambassador to the EU.

Today we met with the head buyer for Duyvis which is one of our best customers in Europe. They are owned by Pepsico.

I am tired and so glad to be going home but I dread the 10 hour flight and customs and all and then still having to drive home. I am already tired and that should about do me in.

I miss my whole family.

Saturday is Cole's birthday party so I should see them all there, except Mama and Daddy and siblings and all.

"Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home."

Visit to Duyvis

We visited Duyvis in Holland today. They are one of the biggest if not the biggest customers in Europe. They are a Pepsico brand that does snack nuts, especially a lot of cracker coated nuts. They are really good and it is a shame that noone in the US has tried marketing them. I believe the US market would accept them, especially young people.

We return home tomorrow. It has been a hard trip and by tomorrow night it will have been a long week. I am really ready to get home and hope I can make it home tomorrow night after we get to Atlanta. It is tough driving alone after so long up and ten hours on a plane.

Monday, August 11, 2008

BEST Xray Project

We were at the BEST factory in Belgium all day today. They make several types of sorting equipment and it is pretty interesting how well they can identify different things and sort them. They can sort recyclable garbage, seperate snakes and rats from lettuce, and for some time have been working with laser sorting to seperate foreign material and aflatoxin from peanuts.

More recently, they have started working with an industry committee on grading to develop paramaters which would allow an x-ray machine they manufacture to be used to grade peanuts.

These guys are good at what they can do if we can ever decide as an industry what it is we want to sample for.

I really dreaded this trip but I certainly am happy now I made it because there has been some very serious and good discussion spawned by our visit to BEST.

Here Bjorn Tumas of Belgium Electornic Sorting Technologies (BEST) explains a laser sorter to Randall Taylor with Georgia FSIS, Jack Chastain of Doster Warehouse, and Joe Boddiford of the Georgia Peanut Commission.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Crop Situation

I was talking with Mr. Frank McGill the other day and he told me he planted peanuts on Friday the 13th of June. Now that is late for a man who when he was in his prime as UGA's Mr. Peanut, followed the research ( and properly so at the time) recommendation of April 15th.

The next day I was speaking with a farmer near Hawkinsville who told me they had a lot of peanuts planted in the county in April again this year. Some of the new varieties with greater TSWV resistance may allow earlier plantings though that is not currently recommended.

I noticed peanuts in many stages today on my trip from Tifton to Cordele. Some are not lapping and others were wilting which would indicate that they are in full pod set. It was hot and rains have been very irregular. Friday night Tifton got 2.5 inches and TyTy just seven miles away got about a half inch. Those variations are common and if I were to say where soil moisture is at this time it is critical in most places and subsoil moisture is non-existent in many places so it is rainfall to rainfall if the peanuts are not irrigated.

We need a good tropical storm in September for those June peanuts but it needs to miss the early planted fields which will be ready to harvest.

Being Clear on APRES Comments

My stated disappointment over the APRES conflict with the Southern Peanut Growers Conference was not aimed at the UGA peanut team or UGA. Frankly it was just disappointment in the situation. My Blog generated a lot of discussion. I received a visit to my office and my Chairman was cornered at church on the issue. It was even discussed with me at a Monday night Ice Cream Social at my church.

I am glad the discussion has been generated.

The most valid point that was made came in the visit to my office. It was pointed out that if they had to make a choice APRES was more critical to the UGA peanut team doing their job with the County Agents than attendance at the growers conference. That is exactly my point, this choice should never be one they have to make.

Now you have to understand something about the timing of the Conference. We have a lot of farmers wives who teach school and many of them are now having to be back the third week of July to prepare for classes to start. We are having the conference about as late as we can. The only other choice is earlier which puts us around the 4th of July or even in June and that is a terrible time for farmers to get away from the farm.

I heard a farmer at the Conference say his cost was $400,000 more than last year. He needs every resource to find a solution to that situation or he will be farming up all his equity. Prices haven't kept up with costs.

Ending on a positive note, the new Executive Director of APRES is coming on the Georgia Peanut Tour and wants to sit down and visit with us. I get the feeling he understands the situation and
communication will certainly get us a long way down the road.