Thursday, January 22, 2009

Challenging Times

Salmonella...a peanut warehouse fire...I have heard that bad news comes in threes so what can be next.

This Salmonella problem is much more difficult than the Peter Pan problem a few years ago. It was bad for Peter Pan but they did the perfect recall and lived to tell about it. They have since invested a lot of money in their plant and in education of their employees and are back to sales levels about equal to the pre Salmonella levels.

This peanut butter is not something easily identified by label. It is an ingredient which is harder for consumers to readily identify. You can]t just go look at a brand and get a different brand right now, though that will come once the list can be compiled by FDA. We can't fault FDA for their direction but perhaps for the speed which they can act we would like to see things better. Unfortunately they have been underfunded for the past eight years so they don't have the staff to expedite the process.

As far as the warehouse are sad anytime a warehouse burns because usually it is extensive which this fire was. When the peanut oil starts burning it burns really hot. It is not the way we want our peanuts consumed.

One bit of good news...we have a new President now and it sure seems he has a pretty positive attitude about America. America is a great place and I hope his positive attitude will become contagious in the American public. The thing I love about working with farmers is that they are optimistic. America needs that attitude right now!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Georgia Peanut Farm Show

Yesterday was the 33rd annual Georgia Peanut Farm Show. The crowd was good and exhibitors filled the arena at the Civic Center in Albany. There is a lot of question this year as to what to do on the farm. Last year's crop was amazingly good and so we have too many peanuts. Contracts are almost unheard of and a good contract does not exist.

We seem to be up to our neck in peanut butter so please please, give your local food bank a case of peanut butter.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

County Production Meetings

We are in the midst of participation in the county peanut production meetings. I sincerely appreciate the County Agents for allowing us to have this chance to make a brief report.

One thing we are covering this year is the prospect that the Peanut Commission could relocate. we don't have time to go in to all the details so I am trying to look at more ways to get this information to farmers.

We have had a lot of farmers who have pointed out that Farm Bureau and the Georgia Cattleman both have prominent locations on the Interstate and that they get a lot of visibility for our farmers.

Now we have the opportunity to do that for peanut farmers in Georgia but farmers need to support the idea or it is not a good idea.

Our current building is in downtown Tifton a bit over a mile and several turns off of Interstate 75. That is one of the most busy Interstates in the US and has a traffic flow of over 60,000 cars a day that pass through Tifton.

The County has a piece of property which is right on the Interstate at the same exit as the Agrirama. It is across the Interstate from the Agrirama and has great visibility for the highway. Tift County built a new State Patrol Post so they have the property available. They understand the importance of Agriculture to Tift County.

The Commission has looked for more than my 22 years there, off and on at relocation. The major problem was finding a place that has the visibility on the Interstate. Now that opportunity seems a real probability.

If we do this we need to be certain that the location is not just an office that houses staff. It needs to be educational, it needs to promote peanuts, and it needs to further technology for our farmers to improve the profit opportunity for Georgia's peanut farmers.

I told farmers at a meeting the other day, in my 22 years at the Commission I can count on one hand the times we have had anyone get off the Interstate to come learn about peanuts or buy Georgia Souvenir Peanuts. This is a magnificent opportunity.

We own the building we are in and have interested buyer prospects. We also have begun to study grants to look at energy management which may have farm applications and technology which can work for farmers. This can be a facility which will make Georgia Peanut Farmers proud and excited.

But if farmers see a problem we need to know that. And, if they see more that we need to do we also need to know these, too.

Think about it and let us know.

Georgia Peanut Farm Show

Thursday, January 15th will bring the 33rd Georgia Peanut Farm Show. Doors open at 8:30 and this year the program will include a seed seminar and a new award, the Young Peanut Farmer of the Year. I encourage all who grow peanuts and those involved int he industry to be there. We have almost $40,000 in door prizes and as always lunch will be served.

American Farm Bureau

The American Farm Bureau Annual Meeting begins today in San Antonio.

This is the twentieth year the Georgia Peanut Commission has exhibited here. Our participation has had several benefits. Most of the folks here are not peanut farmers but they are sure peanut consumers so we can remind them the value of peanuts and peanut butter in their diet.

Perhaps as beneficial a result is that we are building a coalition with the largest group of farm families we can anywhere. The AFB staff and leadership all recognize us and are interested in the needs of peanut farmers in Georgia. In Washington our lobbyist and the AFB lobbyist work very well together. Most of all in terms of Farm Bureau we have assured that Georgia President Duval is the first person they ask in a board meeting on a peanut issue and Zippy is a great advocate for us as well as all of Georgia Agriculture.

This year exhibition is difficult because Mark and I had to drive out Thursday afternoon and all day Friday for the Saturday setup. The trip back is even more tedious because exhibits close Monday at 3 and we tear down load up and head part of the way home, probably until about midnight because Tuesday night we have to unload and reload the truck for our journey to Albany Wednesday morning for our board meeting and the setup for Thursday's Peanut Farm Show. But I assure you I believe enough in this meeting that I am more than willing to do that.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Where is Winter

Well we are back at work after the Christmas Holiday and it sure feels more like Spring than Winter. The yellow bells are blooming in the yard and the highs have been in the mid seventies. I thought back in November when we got a few cold days we were in store for a cold Winter. We have plants which have not yet been killed back by the cold which should have been killed already. What a Winter!

Well anyway Winter or not it is time for all the meetings which happen in the Winter time. American Farm Bureau, the Peanut Farm Show, Georgia Young Farmers and all the county production meetings. Meeting season is upon us and so on the road it is.