Friday, June 26, 2009

Government Feeding Programs

I made a day trip to Washington yesterday to meet with the folks in USDA who are in charge of buying and distributing commodities to a host of government feeding programs. It was a long hard trip...I was on the road at 4:30 AM and got back about midnight. That said it was well worth the trip.

Government purchases peaked in 1992-93 when Charles Hatcher, Congressman from Georgia"s second congressional district, was Chairman of the House Ag Subcommittee which oversaw these programs.

We had a very cordial and informative meeting. We stressed the value of peanut butter in feeding programs. We are really cheap when you consider the protein value. We are also a food which is good and good for you.

The folks we met with had some pretty solid suggestions as to how we can get government purchases increased. The system is a bottom up system with requests for peanut butter starting locally.

I really think if we do some pretty serious promotion in this area may have some of the greatest potential for consumption increases of anything we can do. We are talking a lot of money and a lot of pounds of peanuts if we are successful.

Monday, June 22, 2009

American Peanut Congress

Well a lot has happened already and tomorrow is another day of meetings.

Yesterday we had a meeting of the committee which is working to try to enhance government purchases. There is a lot of activity all throughout the peanut industry and I will be going to Washington on Thursday to meet with the folks at USDA who purchase and distribute commodities and foodstuffs.

we can make a solid case that we have a lot to offer in nutritional value and that peanuts should not be ignored. This would be a good year with the surplus from last year's crop to increase government purchases of peanut butter and any other products which fit the needs of the government feeding programs.

Today the program included a lot of speakers in the area of food safety. It may have been the most prestigious slate of speakers I have ever seen at this meeting. They all have re-enforced my belief that the PCA scare will change food safety regulations for all of us. I include farmers in this but the thing we have to do is make sure that any issues which impact farmers are based on science and are not overly burdensome or costly.

This morning most of the peanut brokers hosted a prayer breakfast. As I looked around the room at our hosts I have to say that it was a pleasure to see true family men who love God. One of their own was the speaker this year. Ron Wolff did an excellent job of reminding us that in all things we can be thankful because God is on control. He was a fantastic speaker and it was a really wonderful way to start the day.

Tomorrow we will have speakers discussing nutrition and use of penauts in feeding programs. I am looking forward to that as a refresher for the meeting Thursday.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Crop Condition

I am amazed at how much land is not yet planted, especially behind wheat. Also, I have seen a lot of drowned out areas where they have just replanted. I wonder did they change what they planted the second time. And if you have cotton you about have to replant with cotton to recoup the tech fees so that is a bit more clear.

All I can say is we need a miracle this year if we ever had one.

I have always heard, be careful what you ask for because you might get it. Maybe the miracle is in the works to fix the ills of a glutted market. You only have to have half as many at $700 to make the same you made with twice as much and $355. Unless the crop starts to look amazingly better I would not contract my production this year.

There is some anticipation that we may forfeit 200,000 tons of '08 crop to the government. If they would send it to the food banks or oil mill that would be the best thing that could happen because it would add some serious market dynamics to our situation.

I hope we all enjoy a roller coaster ride because we have one this year.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Budget Discussions

Budget discussions with my board have confirmed a lot of what I thought. Much of the 09 crop is either in trouble or non-existent.

The peanut industry is in for a real roller coaster ride. Acres are likely down more than the intentions suggested and the condition of the crop which is planted has a lot of problems. Drowned out low spots, skippy stands, and very late.

If you want to buy peanuts cheap in the Fall you better book now. We have a lot of potential to be hammered with TSWV in many areas. Also, the earliest planted peanuts started out with some weak seedlings and the roots stayed shallow for a while with all the rain.

Another complicating factor for the future is the increase in soybean acreage. The other day I was riding by a field on a country road and thought it was twin row peanuts in wheat until I was told different. The farmer told me he is doing soybeans that way and he is getting a yield response and his cost on soybeans is a lot less.

For peanuts in terms of rotation a Soybean is a peanut. So we cannot push acres up significantly in some areas because we need our other two rotation crop years at the least.

We are a long way from harvest and no crystal ball is perfect but I will say this year is starting out really in a bad place and it will take a miracle to come back totally from today's situation.

I guess USDA was right to hold the price high and they will look really smart at the end of the day if we have a disaster. They just have to hold them until Fall to capitalize on the disaster if it carries forward.

Oh well, prices should be a lot better next year at planting time.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Screen on the Green

We did our first of two Screen on the Green promotions last night in Atlanta. Peachtree TV puts up a big screen at Centennial Park and shows classic movies. Last night's movie was "Field of Dreams." It is a really great family movie and we made sure everyone who wanted them had peanuts for the movie. I was a bit surprised at the folks who also took recipe cards but they are easy to tuck away and go better than brochures.

I was a bit concerned when I pulled up to the park to unload the peanut plants and I was in the midst of a severe thunderstorm which included some small hail. It passed and they went on with the event. I was worried if it would impact the crowd but don't really think it did. There had to be close to 8000 people there.

The commercial they played at the beginning of the movie was the spot we have with farmer, Gene Roney in it. I really like that spot and it was well timed on the heels of the first quarter of this year. I had several questions about how we had been impacted but no one who seemed concerned and not a soul asked me if the peanuts I was handing out were safe to eat.

This is a promotion we do with Alabama, Florida, and the National Peanut Board and it really works well because it is all farmer and staff manning the exhibit and going through the crowd passing out peanuts.