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Opinion Editorial

Calendar of Events

Peanuts - A Way of Life eanuts have always been a way of life. While I also rotate cotton, corn and grass, its peanuts that my family and I depend upon. I grew up on a small farm north of Malone, Florida where my family owned 200 acres. While I learned about the volatility of peanut farming from my parents, the time I spent working at the farm credit union gave me a deep understanding about the difficult economics peanut farmers face. Instead of being behind a combine, during the early 1970s, I was behind a desk reviewing loan applications. I saw firsthand how important it was for farmers to give lenders a confident picture that they would have the means to repay their loan. Back then, we didn’t have a peanut program, and frankly lenders didn’t have as much confidence in their borrowers. Today I’m back on the farm with about 2,000 acres, and I can’t stress enough how important the peanut program is to our farms and communities. It brings a level of stability to our farms and communities that we didn’t have before the program was enacted in the 2014 Farm Bill. Without it, farmers like myself would have far fewer means to borrow the capital we need to keep our farms running. So when I hear that the Florida Peanut Federation (FPF) is proposing to dramatically lower the reference price in the upcoming farm bill and is threatening to sabotage the entire program because they want their land to arbitrarily be declared as peanut base, I wonder whose side are they on? It certainly doesn’t seem like they have the best interests of peanut-growing farm families in mind. What galls me the most is that the FPF is receiving all the benefits of market stability that are afforded to peanut farmers under the current, fair reference price for peanuts, but still it doesn’t seem enough for them. They sure weren’t complaining when the price of peanuts was upwards of $600 a ton. Now that it is down a bit, they are proposing unrealistic ways to bring more value to their land, which would blow up the entire program, harming our farms and creating economic uncertainty in communities across the southeast. Simply put, their proposal to lower the reference price should be flatly rejected. The peanut program is a market-based success story. Since peanuts are not traded on the market like most other commodities, pricing is determined long after famers make major investments in their crop. So, the peanut program gives farmers some stability that allows for long-term planning that keeps many of us in business. And that stability doesn’t just benefit farmers, it impacts entire communities. It sustains the businesses we have in Jackson County, Florida. Without the economic certainty of the peanut program, our entire supply chain – and the jobs that go with it – wouldn’t be able to survive. The accusation by the Florida Peanut Federation that the peanut program gives us an incentive to grow for the program and not the market, reveals a level of ignorance about how the program works. The peanut program does not drive planting decisions. The market determines price and what we plant. Today, demand for peanuts is growing and

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u Stripling Irrigation Research Park Field Day, July 27, 2017, University of Georgia Stripling Irrigation Research Park, Camilla, Ga. For more information call 229-522-3623. u American Peanut Shellers Association and National Peanut Buying Points Association Pre-Harvest Meeting, Aug. 1-2, 2017, Lake Blackshear Resort and Golf Club, Cordele, Ga. For more information visit peanut-shellers.org or call 229-888-2508.

u Florida Peanut Field Day, Aug. 17, 2017, North Florida Research and Education Center, Marianna, Fla. For more information contact Barry Tillman at btillman@ufl.edu or Ethan Carter at ethancarter@ufl.edu or call 850-526-1611. u Wiregrass Crops Field Day, Aug. 18, 2017, Wiregrass Research and Extension Center, Headland, Ala. For more information contact Larry Wells at wellslw@auburn.edu, call 334-693-2363 or aaes.auburn.edu/wrec. u Brooklet Peanut Festival, Aug. 19, 2017. For more information visit the festival’s website at brookletpeanutfestival.com. u West Florida Extension Field Day, Aug. 22, 2017, West Florida Research and Education Center, Jay, Fla. For more information email wfrec@ifas.ufl.edu or call 850-983-7125. u Plains Peanut Festival, Sept. 23, 2017. For more information visit plainsgeorgia.com. u Central Florida Peanut Festival, Oct. 7, 2017, Williston, Fla. For more information visit willistonfl.com. u Sunbelt Ag Expo, Oct. 17-19, 2017, Moultrie, Ga. For more information visit sunbeltexpo.com or call 229-985-1968.

u Georgia Peanut Festival, Oct. 21, 2017, Sylvester, Ga. For more information visit gapeanutfestival.org. u National Peanut Festival, Nov. 3-12, 2017, Dothan, Ala. For more information visit nationalpeanutfestival.com.

Larry Ford Fourth Generation Farmer from Jackson County, Florida

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Southeastern Peanut Farmer July/August 2017

(Let us know about your event. Please send details to the editor at joycrosby@gapeanuts.com.

July/August 2017 Southeastern Peanut Farmer  
July/August 2017 Southeastern Peanut Farmer