May/June 2024 - Southeastern Peanut Farmer

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Vol. 62 No. 4 | May/June 2024 2024 Peanut Irrigation Guidebook MANA Nutrition Expands USAID announces $200 million for RUTF

A Look Inside


MANA Nutrition unveils 38,000-squarefoot addition to their facility in Fitzgerald, Georgia.


The Sunbelt Ag Expo Field Research Days are set for July 10-24 in Moultrie, Georgia. Farmers can visit the research plots during the two-week period.


William D. Branch was recently inducted into the Georgia Agricultural Hall of Fame for his peanut breeding efforts.


UGA Tifton announces new precision ag research and demonstration lab set for construction in 2025.



The Peanut Irrigation Guidebook provides information on irrigation thresholds for optimal peanut yield, pivot uniformity for chemigation and fertigation, SmartIrrigation CropFit App, segregating dryland corners in irrigated fields at harvest and the Master Irrigator Program in Georgia and Mississippi.

Southeastern Peanut Farmer is published six times a year (Jan./Feb., March, April, May/June, July/Aug., and Oct./Nov.) by the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation. The publisher is not responsible for copy omission, typographical errors, or any unintentional errors that may occur, other than to correct it in the following issue. Any erroneous reflection which may occur in the columns of Southeastern Peanut Farmer will be corrected upon brought to the attention of the editor. (Phone 229-386-3690.)

Postmaster: Send address changes (Form 3579) to Southeastern Peanut Farmer, P.O. Box 706, Tifton, Georgia, 31793.

May/June 2024 | Southeastern Peanut Farmer 3
May/June 2024 | Peanut Irrigation Guidebook
free to qualified
industry. Periodical postage paid at Tifton, Georgia
additional mailing office. Editorial Content: Editorial copy from sources outside of the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation is sometimes presented for the information and interest of our members. Such material may, or may not, coincide with official Southern Peanut Farmers Federation policies. Publication of material does not necessarily imply its endorsement by the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation. For editorial concerns call 229-386-3690. No portion of this or past issues of the Southeastern Peanut Farmer may be reproduced in any form whatsoever without the written consent of the editor. By-lined articles appearing in this publication represent views of the authors and not necessarily those of the publisher. Advertising: The Publisher reserves the right to refuse any advertisement. Corrections to advertisements must be made after the first run. All billing offers subject to credit review. Advertisements contained in this publication do not represent an endorsement by the Southeastern Peanut Farmer or the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation. Use of trade names in this publication is for the purpose of providing specific information and is not a guarantee nor warranty of products named. For advertising concerns call 229-386-3472. SEPF TEAM Editor Joy Carter Crosby 229.386.3690 Director of Advertising Jessie Bland 229.386.3472 Contributing Writing Kaycee Rippey 334.792.6482 10
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On The Cover
Alabama Peanut Producers Association Florida Peanut Producers Association Georgia Peanut Commission Mississippi Peanut Growers Association 8 | CHECKOFF REPORT 24 | WASHINGTON OUTLOOK 26 | SOUTHERN PEANUT GROWERS UPDATE
Irrigation pivot in a Florida peanut field. Photo credit: Senninger Irrigation.

Editor’s thoughts Events

A Healthy You Equals a Healthy Farm

Farming is filled with obstacles. Life is filled with obstacles. These obstacles can often be met with sadness, anxiety or rage. No matter the obstacle, farmers seem to always perseverve. Many times farmers keep their emotions inside. They have to be the strong ones. However, they don't have to remain silent when they need help.

Farming is a stressful occupation that is associated with increased levels of anxiety and depression. Multiple studies show that farmer suicide rates are 2-5x higher than the national average. Experiences such as natural disasters, extreme weather events, financial uncertainty, fluctuating markets, labor shortages, trade disruptions and other factors all contribute to extreme stress for farmers who often live in a very isolated setting. It is important to break the stigma around mental health challenges and encourage those struggling to reach out for help. To build a sustainable future for agriculture for our nation and our world, we must promote the wellbeing of our nation’s farmers.

In 2021 and 2022, the Georgia Foundation for Agriculture partnered with The Georgia Rural Health Innovation Center and students in Mercer University School of Medicine's Rural Health Sciences Ph.D. program to study the mental well-being, stressors and coping mechanisms for individuals in farm occupations.

One of the most astounding and worrisome results were that more than 60 percent of first-generation farmers had suicidal thoughts in the past year, with almost 10 percent having those thoughts daily. The survey results were released as state-wide data and also by commodity data. Peanuts and pecans were grouped together where the average respondents were 73 percent male, average age of 44 and 56 percent were first generation farmers.

Some of the top five stressors for farmers include balancing home and work life, weather and its effects, succession planning, saving and retirement, and difficulty hiring or managing employess.

The survey also included the top five coping mechanisms which include exercise or walking, reading or watching tv, sleep, drink alcohol and lastly pray or participate in other religious activities.

However, if a farmer needs help then there is a hotline where they can call for help. The number is 988. Additional information is also available online at I encourage you to seek help when needed and continue farming.

CROPS Conference

June 3-6, 2024, HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, Huntsville, Ala. For more information visit

USA Peanut Congress

June 10-13, 2024, Amelia Island, Fla. For more information call 229-888-2508 or visit

Georgia EPD Public Meeting

June 13, 2024, Goolsby Farm Supply, Dawson, Ga. Meeting begins at 10:00 a.m. For more information visit epd.georgia. gov.

American Peanut Research and Education Society Annual Meeting

July 9-11, 2024, Oklahoma City, Okla. For more information visit

Sunbelt Ag Expo Field Day

July 10-24, 2024, Moultrie, Ga. For more information call 229-985-1968 or visit the Expo's website at

Southern Peanut Growers Conference

July 17-19, 2024, Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa, Savannah, Ga. For more information visit the conference website at

American Peanut Shellers Association and National Peanut Buying Points Association Pre-Harvest Meeting

Aug. 20-21, 2024, Albany, Ga. For more information call 229-888-2508 or visit

Brooklet Peanut Festival

Sept. 21, 2024, Brooklet, Ga. For more information visit the festival's website at

Plains Peanut Festival

Sept. 28, 2024, Plains, Ga. For more information call visit the festival's website at

Georgia National Fair

Oct. 3-13, 2024, Perry, Ga. For more info visit

Let us know about your event. Please send details to the editor at

Southeastern Peanut Farmer | May/June 2024 4

MANA Nutrition Expands

USAID announces $200 million for nutrition commodities to treat acute malnutrition around the world

Hearing a child cry doesn’t spark joy in the United States but thousands of miles away in Ethiopia, hearing the cries of children sparks joy and prayers of gratitude. The cries signify relief and hope after a child has been treated with a readyto-use therapeutic food, also known as RUTF.

Severe malnutrition claims the lives of one in five children under the age of five. But the disease is treatable with RUTF, a shelf-stable product

made from peanuts, milk powder, oil, sugar, and a blend of nutrients. It costs less than $1 a day to treat a child with RUTF, and it’s highly effective, with a recovery rate of 90 percent.

Three RUTF packets a day for 6 weeks can turn a non-crying, severely malnourished child into a child with hope in their eyes and gives them the ability to cry again when hungry.

Dr. Mark Manary, Washington University professor of pediatrics and founder of Project Peanut Butter,

developed the RUTF product. The Georgia Peanut Commission provided funding for some of the initial trials when Manary tested the various formulas from 2000 to 2004, which led to the development of RUTF available today. There are two locations in the U.S. where the peanut based RUTF is manufactured - Edesia Nutrition in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, and MANA Nutrition in Fitzgerald, Georgia. The MANA plant in Georgia recently expanded their operations to produce more product per year.

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The Ready-to-Use Therapeutic (RUTF) packets made at MANA Nutrition in Fitzgerald, Ga., are composed of peanut paste, milk and a special mix of of vitamins and minerals. The RUTF helps children recover from severe malnutrition. Photo credit: USAID.

"Combatting global food insecurity starts with Georgia farmers. Our peanut farmers produce the most peanuts in the nation, and our state's beloved product is a key component in RUTF products, which MANA uses to feed over one million malnourished children a year. MANA's expansion is a testament to their success!" says U.S. Representative Austin Scott, R-Georgia.

George Birdsong, president of Birdsong Peanuts, provided the first load of peanuts to help MANA with their start in 2009 and he was glad to join the celebration for the new expansion to the manufacturing plant.

"I think this is just a wonderful benevolent activity," Birdsong says. "Peanuts have been so valuable as a food product, so nutritious, and to see that peanuts are about a third of this RUTF product, it is very heartwarming for me to know that we are part of it."

The new expansion will increase MANA's production of RUTF packs three-fold and mark MANA's first step in addressing malnutrition in the United States and globally. Since its creation in 2009, MANA has helped nearly 5.5 million children and is predicted to feed an additional 3 million in 2024 alone.

MANA Nutrition unveiled their new 38,000-square-foot addition to its existing facility in Fitzgerald during a ceremony in May. Currently, the facility can produce up to 121,000 pounds of RUTF per day, which is enough to feed 4,000 children suffering from malnutrition for six weeks. The new expansion will give MANA the ability to manufacture more than 300,000 pounds per day which will feed more

than 10,000 children for six weeks.

"I'm proud to know that the peanuts grown right here in Georgia are able to serve communities in need worldwide," says Joe Boddiford, chairman of the Georgia Peanut Commission. "As we look into the future with USAID and private support of RUTF products, processing and distribution, the peanut industry is excited about the future of helping hungry families across the world."

In 2022, USAID made a historic one-time contribution of $200 million to expand access to RUTFs.

"This U.S. government investment in RUTF ... can save millions of the most vulnerable children in our global village - and it will enable MANA to draw upon the strength of our village in Georgia, which proudly supplies the workforce and key ingredients required to produce RUTF," says Mark Moore, MANA's founder and CEO.

Partnerships among government, individuals, businesses and organizations help MANA be able to continue producing RUTFs.

"USAID issued a call to action to partner governments, philanthropic foundations, individuals, anyone to match that donation and in total together – we managed to raise another unprecedented $330 million for wasting treatment around the world," says USAID Administrator Samantha Power. "We are building on that commitment today."

During the grand opening ceremony Administrator Power announced an additional commitment to provide another $200 million in dedicated funding to RUTF and other commodities to treat acute malnutrition. Additionally, British philanthropist Sir Chris Hohn, founder of The Children's Investment Fund, spoke at the grand opening and announced a $50 million investment to MANA.

The U.S. Peanut Federation, which was founded by the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation, the American Peanut Shellers Association and the National Peanut Buying Points Association, has supported the promotion of RUTF through their advocacy work in Washington, D.C. The USPF, along with other commodity groups and global hunger organizations, is a member of the RUTF coalition. In late 2023, USPF signed on to a coalition letter advocating for sustained funding for RUTF from USAID. USPF applauds the efforts of USAID to invest in this lifesaving treatment.

The specialized, life-saving nutritious foods will be distributed through USAID partners, UNICEF and the UN World Food Program to people in desperate need around the world. This builds on USAID's ongoing, life-saving nutrition support in places like Gaza and Ethiopia, where this assistance is vitally needed to prevent developmental delays, disease and even death.

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Joe Boddiford, chairman of the Georgia Peanut Commission, Ernie Charlton, board member with Food for Famine Society in Canada, and Mark Manary, founder of RUTF products, visit during the grand opening of the expansion at MANA Nutrition in Fitzgerald, Ga. Coby Griffin, maintenance technician with MANA Nutrition, answers questions during a tour of the MANA Nutrition factory with USAID Administrator Samantha Power. Photo credit: USAID.

Checkoff Report

Investments Made by Growers for the Future of the Peanut Industry

Florida peanuts promoted at Family Farm Festival

The Florida Peanut Producers Association attended and participated in the 2nd Annual Family Farm Festival at the Florida Agricultural Museum in Flagler County. The Florida Agricultural Museum is a learning center that focuses on Florida's diverse agriculture from the past, present and future.

The mission of this event is to bring families together to learn through hands-on experiences how to appreciate all that Florida agriculture produces. To accomplish this, the Family Farm Festival offered a variety of educational programs on agricultural commodities, special demonstrations, farm animals, pioneer farm experiences and much more.

The Florida Peanut Producers Association's exhibit provided peanut seed kits, live peanut plants, a peanut production video, information about the health and nutritional benefits of consuming peanuts and peanut products, as well as complimentary roasted peanuts.

"This was a great opportunity to share information about Florida's peanut production with families outside the traditional peanut production areas in the state," says Ken Barton, executive director of the Florida Peanut Producers Association.

Approximately 350 people attended this year's Family Farm Festival.

MPGA exhibits at Nutrition and Dietetics Conference

The Mississippi Peanut Growers Association, with assistance from The Peanut Institute, sponsored the Mississippi Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics annual conference at the gold level. The annual conference was held April 4 - 5, 2024, at the University of Southern Mississippi. Peanuts are the ideal food to go along with the conference theme of "Food for ThoughtInnovation, Solutions and Strategies for Success." There were approximately 300 attendees at the event.

The sponsorship included an afternoon snack signage, half-page ad in meeting program, logo appearance on main meeting slideshow and an exhibit booth. During the exhibit hours, Malcolm Broome, MPGA executive director, interacted with the dietitians using literature from The Peanut Institute focusing on healthy diets, diabetes and super peanut butter recipes. Broome also distributed National Peanut Board's booklet on ways to introduce peanut foods to your infant and the MPGA brochure on heart healthy peanuts.

This conference is significant for the dietitians who promote the use of peanuts and peanut butter as they prepare recipes used in food service for hospitals, long term care facilities, veterans homes, private doctors and schools. Many of the attendees left the conference with peanut nutrition literature, promotional items and samples of roasted peanuts.

Panhandle Row Crops Course held in Florida

The University of Florida held the annual Panhandle Row Crop Short Course in Marianna, Florida, recently. The short course was packed with more than 175 producers attending from the surrounding counties. Extension specialists from Florida and Georgia spoke to peanut and cotton farmers regarding early and midseason management strategies for the upcoming season. Brittany Peacock, Florida Peanut Producers Association program coordinator, presented information on FPPA activities and an update on the farm bill.

There were 25 vendors from the agricultural industry, including FPPA, sharing their products and knowledge with attendees.

Jordan receives AgVocator scholarship

Macy Jordan of Malone, Florida, received the 2024 AgVocator scholarship and a check for $24,000 to go towards her college tuition. Jordan is an early admit student at Chipola College and will graduate in May with an associate's degree in agriculture education. She will also graduate from Malone High School in May with her high school diploma. She plans to continue her education at the University of Florida, majoring in agricultural communications with a focus on leadership. She is also currently screening for a Florida state FFA office. Jordan grew up on a family farm; her parents are members of the Florida Peanut Producers Association. She is very knowledgeable about peanuts and the agricultural industry and has goals of advocating for farmers and their mental health.

The Florida Peanut Producers Association is excited to congratulate Macy and looking forward to what she will do for the agriculture industry in the future.

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Malcolm Broome, Mississippi Peanut Growers Association executive director, visits with attendees during the Mississippi Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics annual conference. Ken Barton talks with visitors about the peanut industry in Florida during the Family Farm Festival.

Georgia Peanut Commission sponsors Georgia FFA

Joy Crosby, Georgia Peanut Commission assistant executive director, presents the Star in Agriscience Awards to Kylie Hurd, state winner from Sonoraville FFA, Katie Spivey, central region winner from Perry FFA, and Kelsey Murray, South region winner from Berrien County FFA.

The Georgia Peanut Commission and The Peanut Institute teamed up to sponsor the Georgia FFA Star in Agriscience Award during the state convention held in Macon, Georgia. The State Star in Agriscience Award was presented to Kylie Hurd from Sonoraville FFA. The additional state finalists included Katie Spivey from Perry FFA and Kelsey Murray from Berrien County FFA.

The Georgia Peanut Commission also exhibited during the two-day career show. The event provided GPC with an opportunity to showcase the various careers within the peanut industry.

Georgia peanuts promoted through professional fisherman

The Georgia Peanut Commission has partnered with Drew Cook, professional fisherman in the Bassmaster Elite series and The National Professional Fishing League to promote Georgia peanuts this spring. Cook is a Georgia native, growing up in Cairo.

Cook has previously been recognized as the 2019 Elite Rookie of the Year in the Bassmaster Series. He has competed in numerous tournaments throughout the 2024 season. Some of his highlights include finishing fifth in The Touring Angler Tournament on Lake Lanier and 15th in The National Professional Fishing League in Logan Martin, Alabama. Cook can be found passing out samples of Georgia peanuts at numerous fishing events throughout the year.

APPA exhibits at the Alabama Chapter - American Academy of Pediatrics Meeting

The Alabama Peanut Producers Association exhibited at the Spring meeting of the Alabama Chapter - American Academy of Pediatrics in Gulf Shores, Alabama, April 18-20, 2024.

More than 100 pediatricians attended the meeting. APPA was on hand to talk with providers about the early introduction of peanuts and peanut allergy research. Several doctors signed up to receive copies of the National Peanut Board's handout about early introduction to give to their patients' parents.

Georgia Peanuts exhibits at the Georgia School Nutrition Association annual meeting

The Georgia Peanut Commission exhibited at the Georgia School Nutrition Association's annual meeting April 18-20 in Augusta, Georgia. The three-day event allowed GPC to provide school nutrition personnel, including directors, managers and others, nutrition information related to peanuts and peanut butter, as well as peanut recipes to encourage consumption in schools across the state. Materials on peanut allergy management in schools was also distributed at the event. GPC was encouraged to hear many school nutrition representatives praise peanuts and peanut butter and share creative ways they are including them in school dining menus across the state.

Georgia Peanut Commission educates children at Ag Days

The Georgia Peanut Commission has had an active spring visiting with children at a number of schools and ag day events. GPC staff have attended events across Georgia from Charlton County to Hall County. A West Virginia FFA chapter also visited GPC to learn more about peanut production in Georgia. Educational materials for teachers and activity books or coloring books are provided to teachers and students at each event. Since March, GPC has reached nearly 12,000 students by telling them how peanuts grow and the importance of peanuts to Georgia's economy.

May/June 2024 | Southeastern Peanut Farmer 9 Reports by
Kaye Lynn Hataway provides early introduction information to pediatricians during the Alabama Chapter Pediatrics Meeting. The Georgia Peanut Commission sponsors professional fisherman Drew Cook in the Bassmaster Elite series. Jessie Bland (left) with the Georgia Peanut Commission and Leslie Wagner with Southern Peanut Growers exhibit during the Georgia School Nutrition Association's annual meeting.



consequences of mismanaging Irrigation Thresholds for optimal Peanut yield

Extensive research on irrigation scheduling has been performed at UGA’s Stripling Irrigation Research Park on many different crops. While irrigation management may seem straight forward there are many implications to not maintaining an adequate moisture level in the soil for the season. Every crop responds to soil moisture levels and irrigation applications differently.

Research has shown that the

quickest way to reduce corn yield is to under-irrigate it, especially during peak water consumptive times. Data has shown that while not profitable, water use efficient corn can be overirrigated to a very high level without yield penalties.

Conversely, cotton and peanuts respond very differently to mismanaged irrigation applications. While both crops require adequate soil moisture, research has shown that

over irrigating these crops especially when it has been wet or excessive rainfall has occurred during the season, will either cap or reduce yield. This means that farmers need to be cognizant of their irrigation strategy to prevent losing profit from either over or under irrigating their crops.

The standard recommended soil water tension trigger point for peanuts in sandy loam soil (most predominate soil type across southern Georgia),

Southeastern Peanut Farmer | May/June 2024 10
Photo by Phillip Edwards, University of Georgia. Irrigating peanuts too early with too much water or maintaining soil that is too wet and delaying irrigation or allowing the soil to remain too dry the entire season can reduce yield in peanuts.

is 45 kPa. This value has been used in research for over the past 10 years and has aided in maximizing yields when compared to other irrigation scheduling methods utilized in peanut production. However, there is evidence (such as primed acclimation) that suggests the trigger level of peanuts could be adjusted to better match their seasonal water requirement.

Data was collected from a two-year study conducted at UGA’s Stripling Irrigation Research Park in Camilla, Georgia, under a variable rate lateral irrigation system with the main objectives of utilizing soil moisture information to determine the optimal soil moisture level or sensor reading for triggering irrigation on peanuts.

Peanuts were planted during early to mid-May during both years, and soil water tension was monitored using WaterMark soil water tension (SWT) hourly. Daily irrigation decisions were made from the data collected at 7:00 a.m. each morning. SWT treatments were set to trigger irrigation at 20, 30, 40, 50, and 60 kPa.

To bring this into perspective 20 is considered wet, 30, still wetter than recommended, 40 and 50 are both near optimal, and 60 is drier than recommended. Yield was determined by harvesting the middle two rows from each plot. During 2018 there

were no significant differences in yield, while there were during 2019.

During both years there was a numerical trend of increasing yield as the SWT increased, or as the soil was allowed to dry out to 50 kPa. Once the soil was allowed to dry beyond 50 kPa yield was reduced. It should be noted that 32.7 and 19.7 inches of rain were received in 2018 and 2019 respectively.

Independent of the total amount of rainfall the same trend of increasing yield as the soil was allowed to dry down to the optimum level of 50 kPa. Then yield was reduced once the SWT was maintained drier the entire season.

This suggests that there is a penalty for irrigating peanuts too early with too much water or maintaining soil that is too wet and for delaying irrigation or allowing the soil to remain too dry the entire season.

The data strongly suggests adopting a soil moisture sensor, or more advanced irrigation scheduling method when scheduling irrigation on peanuts as both under- and overwatering has shown yield reductions. It is critical that an adequate soil moisture level is maintained during the entire season to maximize yield and irrigation water use efficiency.

While on the topic of overirrigating peanuts, another critical topic to discuss is the utilization

of the UGA Checkbook Method. If followed without considering current environmental conditions, the checkbook method can miss the irrigation target. This can happen by over or under irrigating depending on current environmental conditions.

However, in most cases the checkbook method tends to over-irrigate. This was observed during both 2018 and 2019, where the checkbook method applied approximately double the amount of irrigation as the overall applied average. In both years, the yield was lower than treatments with much less water applied. Higher amounts of irrigation with lower yields directly translates to decreases in Irrigation Water Use Efficiency (IWUE), and to reductions in profitability.

Current environmental conditions such as rainfall, temperature, sunlight (solar radiation) and humidity should be considered when determining how much irrigation to apply via the checkbook method during a given week. A week with cooler and cloudier weather will require less irrigation, while a week with lots of sunshine, high temperatures and low humidity will require more irrigation.

The checkbook method is meant as a guide and was developed based on a long-term (15-year) average evapotranspiration value. Thus, these averages can miss the target if consideration to current climate and environmental conditions are not considered.

Proper irrigation management is critical to maximize peanut yield and indirectly IWUE and profitability. As shown in the data above, managing SWT at drier and wetter than recommended levels causes yield reductions independent of a wet or a dry year.

Farmers can look at this like driving down the road, crossing the white and yellow lines come with penalties, similarly here, maintaining soil moisture too wet and too dry will come with peanut yield penalties. While it is not imperative that sensors be utilized to manage irrigation in peanuts, it is imperative that a scientific method be utilized.

May/June 2024 | Southeastern Peanut Farmer 11 IRRIGATION & WATER MANAGEMENT GUIDEBOOK
Optimal Soil Moisture Level or Sensor Reading for Triggering Irrigation on Peanuts Treatment 20182019 Irrigation Applied (inches) Yield (lb/ac) a = 0.05 Irrigation Applied (inches) Yield (lb/ac) a = 0.05 20 kPa6.25584715.206567ab
40 kPa4.0059006.906775a 50 kPa 4.7560479.206846a
60 kPa4.7558625.406492ab Checkbook9.25565015.806596ab
Similar letters beside yield data indicate statistical significance at the a = 0.05 level.

Pivot Uniformity

Performance matters when using pivot for chemigation or fertigation

Irrigation systems can be one of the most neglected and overlooked pieces of equipment on the farm. Once a pivot is installed, if water is coming out of it, it's doing its job, right? The University of Georgia Water Team's current focus is maximizing irrigation efficiency so that big investments like power, equipment, and the crop itself, result in the most profitable yields (not always the highest).

UGA Extension has preached that maintaining pivot efficiency begins with regular maintenance like frequent nozzle orifice inspections. UGA Extension's Water Team has invested resources in presentations, field days, mobile irrigation labs (MILs) and demonstrations on how farmers can maintain good efficiency from their systems.

Often, a visual inspection of the system while operating can reveal efficiency issues. A MIL will reveal issues not so easily seen by the naked eye such as partially clogged nozzles or incorrect end gun settings.

The end gun setting can be easily misaligned throughout the growing season by snagged limbs or movement from the constant impact of the flapper.

This graph represents poor application uniformity (amount of water applied across the length of the pivot). There are many reasons for poor uniformity; most of them can be identified with an MIL. These causes include clogged or partially clogged nozzles, incorrect end gun settings, worn orifices, leaking seals, errors during installation or incorrect nozzle packages. It is important to replace nozzles with the exact nozzle from the design sheet.


Now let’s focus on chemigation. You might usually associate this practice with corn or cotton, but it has its place in peanuts too. Research from

Bob Kemerait, UGA plant pathologist, has shown that chemigation for leaf spot in peanuts is not the most efficient. However, a field loaded with white mold or with a history of white

Southeastern Peanut Farmer | May/June 2024 12 IRRIGATION & WATER MANAGEMENT GUIDEBOOK
Often, a visual inspection of the system while operating can reveal efficiency issues. A mobile irrigation lab will reveal issues not so easily seen by the naked eye such as partially clogged nozzles or incorrect end gun settings.

mold may benefit from chemigation pushing fungicide down into the peanut canopy and to the ground.

Research by Glenn Harris, UGA soil fertility specialist, has shown fertigation has promise in the event of nitrogen deficiencies from poor inoculation. In times of gypsum shortages, Harris recommends fertigating with products like calcium chloride 60 days after planting.

Boron and Manganese should not be applied through fertigation because the water will run the products off the leaves and into the soil. These products should be directly applied to the foliage by ground rigs or airplane. Of course, insecticides, if the label allows, are possible with chemigation.

Farmers should ensure that their system meets their state department of agriculture's specifications for injecting chemicals and contact their local Extension office or their state department of agriculture for more information.

Pivot uniformity can have a significant effect on fertigation application rates across the field. Figure 1 shows the catch can data from a MIL. This is the amount of irrigation in inches across the length of the pivot from 0 feet to 840 feet.

The figure 2 graph represents how many pounds off the actual

application is from the target rate of 30 pounds per acre. In the figure 2 pivot example, fertilizer is applied an average 8 pounds per acre short of the target amount. Through a deeper inspection of the pivot, it is determined that in certain areas of exceptionally poor uniformity, from about 75 to 125 feet, the pivot covers 0.75 acres. In that specific area, an average of 50 pounds per acre more fertilizer was applied than the target of 30 pounds per acre. Because of the over irrigation due to poor uniformity in that span, 60 pounds of fertilizer was applied to that area when only 23 pounds should have been applied.

Now consider the area of a circle. This example impacts less than one acre because applications are made closer to the pivot point, but uniformity problems are compounded the farther away from the pivot point. In this example, the pivot covers 2.5 acres between 325 feet and 375 feet. Due to poor uniformity of the pivot, a farmer would be under-applying fertilizer by half of the target of 30 pounds per acre. This area should have received 75.6 pounds but it only received 37.5 pounds.

These examples emphasize how important it is that fertilizer applications are uniform across the field when applying product.

What if a farmer had a 1,200-foot system and their end gun applied 50 pounds per acre more than their target because it was set incorrectly? To get the chemical where it needs to be, it is imperative that farmers have an efficient system with appropriate settings within the system.

If farmers are applying any chemicals through their system, then uniformity needs to be a top priority. Under or over applying chemicals not only is a huge waste of money but could also hurt yields by damaging the crop that is in the field.

Irrigation systems are often overlooked, so next time farmers are in the field, they should take a moment to look at the pivot a little closer. Farmers may be surprised to see how easy it can be to fix a uniformity problem with their irrigation that could negatively affect yield.

May/June 2024 | Southeastern Peanut Farmer 13
The end gun setting can be easily misaligned throughout the growing season by snagged limbs or movement from the constant impact of the flapper. Figure 1 Figure 2

Smart Irrigation CropFit App

Peanut segment set to release in 2025

The SmartIrrigation CropFit App is a user-friendly smartphone application that provides growers with real-time, crop-specific, advanced irrigation scheduling recommendations. The app currently has segments for corn, cotton and soybean production in the Southeastern United States. Peanuts and sweet corn will be added to CropFit prior to the 2025 growing season.

In extensive testing, scheduling irrigation with CropFit has been shown to reduce crop water use by up to 40 percent and increase yields by up to 15 percent when compared to traditional calendar-based irrigation scheduling methods.

CropFit offers a wide range of benefits to growers. It allows the user to register multiple fields for each of the included crops and maintains records for past crop seasons. CropFit also tracks meteorological factors and estimated crop growth stage. As CropFit constantly tracks the estimated soil moisture status, it provides timely irrigation recommendations based on current crop water requirements. Because CropFit estimates irrigation needs based on real-time weather data, the use of CropFit for irrigation scheduling is not recommended without access to on-farm precipitation data.

Several studies have been conducted to evaluate CropFit’s

Screenshot showing how the CropFit App extracts soil properties from the NRCS Web Soil Survey. The field boundary is delineated at field setup by dropping pins.

performance. When compared to the University of Georgia Extension Checkbook Method, CropFit consistently results in using significantly less irrigation water and higher yields. For example, over a five-year period, CropFit decreased irrigation water use by an average of 44 percent while increasing yield by an average of 13 percent when used for irrigation scheduling in cotton. Parallel studies have shown that CropFit’s performance is similar to that of scheduling with soil moisture sensors. The CropFit App is available at no cost from the Apple and Google Play app stores. Links to the stores and more information are available at

Screenshot of the CropFit App showing the weather data options available to the user. It is not recommended to use the app for irrigation scheduling unless an on-farm automated rain gauge from the list at the bottom of the screen is used or if rain amounts are entered manually.

Main user screen for an individual field showing the soil water deficit, plant growth stage, accumulated heat units and other information. The little sprinkler indicates that an irrigation event was entered manually by the user.

Southeastern Peanut Farmer | May/June 2024 14
Front page of the CropFit App from which the user selects crop, crop season and individual fields. The vertical bar to the left of the field names indicates soil moisture condition. The circles to the right indicate crop growth stage.

Segregate Peanuts for Quality

University of Georgia research looks at segregating dry corners of irrigated fields from the irrigated peanuts to ensure quality

Proper water supply to peanut plants during pod development is critically important to minimize Aspergillus flavus infection and ensure good seed formation. Although a great portion of peanut fields are under rainfed conditions, irrigation has been a common practice for growers in the Southeast.

Peanuts from irrigated fields are less prone to A. flavus infection, and generally have high-quality kernels and low risk for aflatoxins. However, the risk of aflatoxin contamination and lower kernel quality increases in dry years in dryland corners of irrigated fields.

Mixing peanuts from dryland and irrigated zones within an irrigated field increases the chance that the peanut

load is graded Seg. 2 or Seg. 3. A load graded as Seg. 2 or Seg. 3 means less net return to the grower.

Though it is known that harvesting dryland corners and irrigated areas separately is an alternative to minimize issues with contamination of highquality loads with low-quality peanuts, a comprehensive understanding and implementation of a harvest management strategy for segregating these zones could provide impactful solutions to the challenges associated with peanut seed quality and aflatoxin contamination.

University of Georgia researchers Cristiane Pilon and Wesley Porter are partnering with UGA agents and educators as well as Georgia peanut growers to study the

thresholds for implementing this segregation practice. This study has been conducted since 2022 using 10 commercial fields across Georgia. In 2024, five additional fields are being selected to be part of this project.

This work can contribute to reducing risk of peanut loads from irrigated land being graded as low as Seg. 2 or 3, as well as improving food security due to availability of more peanuts free, or within acceptable levels, of aflatoxin for domestic consumption or exportation.

More information will be available as additional input is obtained for the development of this management practice.

Southeastern Peanut Farmer | May/June 2024 16
The University of Georgia is conducting a study on segregating irrigated peanuts from dryland corners of irrigated fields. Ten fields across Georgia have been part of the study since 2022 and five fields will be added to the study in 2024.

Georgia Master Irrigator Program begins second class

The University of Georgia Extension Ag Water Team developed and conducts the Georgia Master Irrigator Program. The irrigator program began in 2023 through the Georgia Environmental Protection Division Regional Water Council Seed Grant program. The grant program sponsors 16 producers each year. Georgia's soil and water conservation districts provide funding for four additional producers, which bring the program total to 20 producers each year.

During 2023, approximately 50 percent of program participants produced peanuts. The MIP Program is not a new program as it was originally developed in the Midwest. The Georgia MIP program requires participants to invest in irrigation scheduling equipment at the beginning of the growing season. The producers are required to attend both a pre-season and post-season training.

The pre-season focuses on installation procedures, utilization of equipment, data interpretation,

scheduling, system requirements, apps and other pertinent information. The UGA Ag Water Team assists the producers and their county agents with the installation of equipment and data interpretation throughout the growing season.

Technology aids in growing a better understanding of efficiency, sufficiency and frequency of irrigation events. Receiving three inches of rain may only provide 1.5 inches of crop available water which may last less than a week in some situations.

In late fall, there is a post-season meeting which covers financial benefits of irrigation scheduling, postseason discussions and guidance for future use of scheduling equipment. Once all obligations are met, the MIP program presents the producer with an incentive payment for completing the course and adopting this new technology. With utilization of the knowledge gained and innovative technologies in the field, these producers are irrigating crops more efficiently and sustainably. 

Mississippi Master Irrigator Program equips growers

The Mississippi State University Extension Service is taking irrigation education a step further than before by offering Master Irrigator status to those who complete a course of training.

There is no cost to growers to participate in this training, which includes eight hours of online classes and 16 hours of in-person training. Drew Gholson, MSU Extension irrigation specialist, said the goal is for participants to put into practice the skills acquired in the program.

The Mississippi Master Irrigator program from MSU Extension is designed to provide advanced training on irrigation water management (IWM) practices,

soil health, agronomics, irrigation scheduling, irrigation systems and equipment maintenance, economics of irrigated agriculture and policy and management.

The program consists of online modules, classroom trainings, peer-to-peer exchange among participants and instructors, and field demonstrations. The online modules and classroom trainings are conducted by MSU Extension specialists and other individuals with specialized experience in each of the topics.

The Master Irrigator class will be offered each year. The program starts in October when the online modules are open, and participants have

until Jan. 31 to complete them. The in-person session is held in February. This year, 38 people completed the inaugural class.

Those who finish the program receive a certificate of completion, and some companies give a discount on soil moisture sensors and other instruments to those who complete the course. Those enrolled in some Natural Resources Conservation Service programs can meet program requirements by submitting this certificate.

For more information contact Dillon Russell at or Drew Gholson at drew.gholson@

May/June 2024 | Southeastern Peanut Farmer 17
2023 Master Irrigator Program participants in Georgia.

2024 Expo FIELD Research to be showcased in a new format spanning two weeks

Sunbelt Ag Expo Field Day set for July 10-24 in Moultrie, Georgia

The 2024 Sunbelt Ag Expo Field Research Days are scheduled for July 10-24, and farmers are invited to join us at their convenience during this two-week period to learn practical information about the newest technologies that they can use to improve their operations.

The Sunbelt team looks forward to welcoming farmers and professionals in the ag industry to a self-guided driving tour of the Darrell Williams Research Farm located at the Expo show site at Spence Field in Moultrie, Georgia. Visitors should arrive thru Gate 2 anytime between 8:00 a.m. and dark for the tour. Directional signs will lead visitors to the tour path. At the first stop, farmers will have the opportunity to pick up a map as well as information about each plot.

Additionally, pre-recorded segments featuring university researchers and company vendors will be available for viewing while driving through the fields or at a later time on Sunbelt's YouTube channel. This new format will allow visitors to tour grounds at their convenience all at once or multiple times if they so choose.

"We are grateful to continue working with university and corporate researchers on the Darrell Williams Research Farm, where we conduct cotton, peanut, corn and forage research. The ultimate goal in all of the research is to improve the farmer’s bottom line and to do it using the most environmentally and technologically sound practices," says Chip Blalock, Sunbelt Ag Expo executive director.

"Every year, our mission is to provide a place where research can be done to benefit all row crop and

forage farmers. We enjoy working with the researchers and helping them disseminate the information to the farmers," says Cody Mitchell, Sunbelt Ag Expo farm manager.

"Our team works all year to have the best-looking farm around. We want the Expo farm to showcase what a farm should look like," Mitchell adds. "We look forward to welcoming farmers to look at the crops in July and invite everyone to come back in October for the Expo."

There are a few tips visitors should keep in mind to enjoy a successful tour. Bring a friend to experience the event with you - come during the day or late afternoon at your convenience. Be sure to have a smartphone or tablet with you to view the research videos during the tour. Videos will be accessible using the Official Sunbelt Ag web site or YouTube channel.

Connect your device to your vehicle Bluetooth before you arrive so that it is ready to go. Don't forget to follow the signs to the beginning of the tour from Gate 2 and continue to follow the directional signs throughout the tour. Ensure you pick up a copy of the plot map as well as information about the research. Prepare to explore and learn at your own pace on the research farm, all while enjoying your comfortable vehicle!

UGA researchers, Extension specialists and ag chemical representatives conduct numerous trials at the Sunbelt Ag Expo farm for all major southern agronomic crops. To view more specific Field Research Days details, visit

Southeastern Peanut Farmer | May/June 2024 18
Farmers are invited to the 2024 Sunbelt Ag Expo Field Research Days scheduled for July 10-24, 2024. During the two-week period, farmers will be able to visit the research trials and learn practical information about the newest technologies they can use to improve their operations through a selfguided tour at their convenience.

Southern Peanut Growers Conference Set for July

Mark your calendars for the 25th Annual Southern Peanut Growers Conference, July 17-19, 2024, at the Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa, Savannah, Georgia. This year’s conference offers farmers an opportunity to learn more about legislative issues, peanut promotions and production issues.

The registration fee for growers is $225 which includes all conference events and meals. The registration deadline is June 30. The registration fee increases by $75 on July 1.

The theme for this year’s conference, “Rollin' on the River,” plans to focus on marketing, the land grant mission, opportunities for non-food uses of peanuts and a Washington update.

The conference schedule and registration information is available at 

Schedule of Events

Wednesday, July 17

3:00 - 6:30 p.m. Conference Registration

5:00 - 6:30 p.m. Welcoming Reception

Dinner on Your Own in Savannah!

Thursday, July 18

7:00 a.m. Prayer Breakfast

8:30 a.m.

General Session I

Piloting Peanuts through the Course

Bob Parker, Peanut Solutions

Port of Savannah Representative

10:00 a.m. Refreshment Break 10:30 a.m. Ladies Program

10:30 a.m.

General Session II

Setting a New Course for Peanuts

Dr. Michael Deliberto, Louisiana State University

Dr. Ondulla Toomer, Food Science and Market Quality and Handling Research Unit, USDA-ARS

Noon Luncheon

Chancellor Sonny Perdue, University System of Georgia

1:30 p.m. Port of Savannah Tour (Tentative) (Ticketed event. Limited to the first 50 attendees who register for the tour.)

Friday, July 19

7:00 a.m. Farm Press Peanut Efficiency Awards Breakfast

9:00 a.m.

General Session III

Navigating Difficult Waters: Peanut Policy & Economics

U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas, former chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture and a senior member of the committee

Bob Redding, The Redding Firm

Dr. Stanley Fletcher, Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College

10:15 a.m. Refreshment Break

Noon Lunch on your own and afternoon free!

1:00 p.m. Golf Tournament

7:00 p.m. Reception

7:30 p.m. Dinner & Entertainment featuring The American Flyers

May/June 2024 | Southeastern Peanut Farmer 19

Branch inducted into Georgia agricultural Hall of Fame

An innovator in peanut breeding whose research revitalized an industry was inducted into the Georgia Agricultural Hall of Fame at the 68th University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) Alumni Association Awards in Athens. The 2024 honoree is William D. Branch, Georgia Seed Development professor in peanut breeding and genetics in the UGA Department of Crop and Soil Sciences.

Established in 1972, the Georgia Agricultural Hall of Fame honors individuals making extraordinary contributions to agriculture and agribusiness industries in the state.

William D. Branch became interested in plant breeding while growing up on a farm in south central Oklahoma where his family grew wheat and a few acres of peanuts. Following high school, he continued his education in agronomy at Oklahoma State University, earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees and his doctorate before taking a postdoctoral position at Auburn University. In 1978, Branch moved to Tifton, Georgia, to begin working with the UGA peanut breeding program at the Coastal Plain Experiment Station.

Branch’s work improving peanut cultivars has improved the profitability of peanut farming in Georgia, the Southeast and the world at large. Georgia farmers plant more than 675,000 acres of peanuts each year, amounting to a $1.8 billion industry.

The success of peanut production in Georgia has been a team effort by UGA scientists to improve peanut genetics, cultural practices, irrigation technology and chemical control of biotic factors. Peanut cultivars developed by Branch account for more than 80 percent of the peanut

acreage grown in Georgia and the Southeast. Branch has released 31 elite peanut cultivars and five improved germplasm lines and populations for use by fellow plant breeders.

Two cultivars, Georgia Green and Georgia-06G, have been credited with saving the Southeastern U.S. peanut industry due to their resistance to tomato spotted wilt virus. In addition to disease resistance, the cultivars are designed to have higher yields and improved shelling efficiency to increase profitability without increasing input costs.

"Our industry was destined for extinction due to tomato spotted wilt virus," says Don Koehler, Georgia Peanut Commission executive director. "When Bill Branch came to Georgia, farmers were growing two varieties - Florunner and GK7."

According to Koehler, Branch's development of the TSWV resistant variety Georgia Green saved the peanut industry in Georgia. Future varieties developed by Branch include the resistance to TSWV. Some of the dominant resistant varieities following Georgia Green include Georgia Greener and Georgia-06G.

"Georgia-06G has been the standard for almost 20 years in Georgia," says Scott Monfort, UGA Extension peanut agronomist. "By 2012, Georgia-06G covered 90 percent of the acres in Georgia."

As Branch developed more varieties, TSWV resistance was always at the forefront in breeding, along with yield, shelling characteristics and taste for the consumer.

"With Dr. Branch accelerating the ability of peanuts being more available for everyone and increasing yields really pushed the boundaries

Nick Place (left), dean of the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, inducts William D. Branch (right), UGA peanut breeder, into the Georgia Agricultural Hall of Fame at the UGA CAES Alumni Association awards ceremony, April 6, 2024, in Athens, Ga.

for all breeders and ultimately growers to have a greater impact on shellers, growers and manufactuers," says Chris Liebold, peanut researcher with J.M. Smuckers.

Between the release of Georgia Green and the recent release of Georgia-18RU, there has been an increase in yield of 1,995 pounds per acre, equating to an increase in profit of $325 per acre. Today growers in Georgia make $220 million more per year than they did when Georgia Green was released.

"I don't think I saved the peanut industry. I don't believe that," Branch says. "It's a tremendous honor to be in the Georgia Ag Hall of Fame. I can't say enough gratitude to all of those who helped me get here. The good Lord deserves all the credit, not me." 

Southeastern Peanut Farmer | May/June 2024 20

UGA Tifton demonstration lab to fuel innovation in precision agriculture

New facility set for construction in 2025

With the global population expected to increase from 8 billion to 9.7 billion by 2050, agricultural researchers and producers are faced with the looming challenges of how to feed a growing world.

A key tool in the effort to propel Georgia's No. 1 industry into the future is the expanding field of integrative precision agriculture (IPA).

At the University of Georgia Tifton Campus, the new Tifton Integrative Precision Agriculture Research, Education and Demonstration Laboratory will be the first of its kind in the Southeast to provide state-ofthe-art collaborative spaces, top-ofthe-line autonomous equipment and job training for the next generation of agricultural leaders.

Advancing integrative precision agriculture

The $3.03 million project will include a working lab, electronic labs and office spaces to increase collaboration among graduate students, scientists and industry. The 12,500-square-foot space

The Tifton Integrative Precision Agriculture Research, Education and Demonstration Laboratory will be the first in the Southeast to provide state-of-the-art collaborative spaces, top-of-the-line autonomous equipment and job training for the next generation of agricultural leaders.

previously served as the Tifton Rural Development Center before sitting vacant for nearly two decades.

Last month, plans for the lab were signed through this year’s bipartisan government funding package, championed by Rep. Drew Ferguson, R-Georgia, and carried on the Senate side by Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Georgia, and Sen. Rev. Raphael Warnock, D-Georgia.

"We are thrilled for this opportunity to demonstrate the latest technologies across Georgia's commodities," says UGA-Tifton Assistant Dean Michael Toews. "These labs and collaborative spaces will be within walking distance to horticultural, row, turf and citrus plots, providing stakeholders the ability to see and test technologies for adoption

on their farms."

Driving innovation and outreach in Georgia's largest industry

Georgia's agricultural size, breadth and multiple climate zones make it a natural center for agricultural technology development. UGA's College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) is working to advance precision agriculture across the state and nation through teaching, research and outreach. In spring 2022, the university established the Institute for Integrative Precision Agriculture to serve as a conduit to connect agricultural technology development within UGA and with outside partners like universities and agribusiness.

In Tifton, repurposing the Rural

Southeastern Peanut Farmer | May/June 2024 22
"These labs and collaborative spaces will be within walking distance to horticultural, row, turf and citrus plots, providing stakeholders the ability to see and test technologies for adoption on their farms," said UGA-Tifton Assistant Dean Michael Toews.
Photo by Paul Privette. courtesy of the University of Georgia.

UGA Tifton celebrates 20 years of academic programs

The University of Georgia Tifton Campus celebrated their 20th anniversary of undergraduate academic programs April 30, in the National Environmentally Sound Production Laboratory, with the unveiling of the new UGA Tifton Mural.

Before the unveiling, guests heard from George Vellidis, director of academic programs at UGA Tifton. He spoke about the history of academic programs on the UGA Tifton Campus.

"There were 21 students in our inaugural class in the 2003 and 2004 calendar year and now, 20 years later, more than 400 students have graduated from the campus," Vellidis says.

Undergraduate UGA Tifton Campus students can complete degrees within four areas of study: Agribusiness, Agricultural Education, Agriscience and Environmental Systems and Biological Science.

"Tifton campus students' study with the people that spend time in the field or lab every day," says UGA Tifton Assistant Dean Michael Toews. He emphasized that the UGA Tifton Campus researchers and scientists are usually the ones developing the curriculum, creating an unmatched learning experience for students on the Tifton campus.

Dean Kospell, associate dean for academic and faculty affairs at

Development Center will allow CAES students and researchers to solve global agricultural issues such as targeted irrigation and meet the need to share advanced agricultural practices among rural communities.

"While CAES projects like the climate-smart 4-D Farm focus on

the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, discussed the future of academic programs at UGA, specifically focusing on three main areas including student recruitment, student experiences, and career placement.

"We get our students in, we get them trained, and we get them ready for the world," Kospell says.

Three members of the original class at the UGA Tifton Campus

research, this lab will highlight products that have already made it to market and are currently benefiting industry," Toews says. "Beyond our students, researchers and industry partners, this demo lab will create pathways for outreach to Tift County — and rural areas across Georgia — as a whole."

attended the celebration. One of the three, Andrea Mullis, spoke about her time as a student in Tifton saying, "some of my fondest memories came from my time at UGA Tifton."

The UGA Tifton Mural was commissioned by the UGA Tifton Campus and painted by Jill Whitley, a local artist also responsible for 20 UGA bulldogs located in front of local businesses around Tifton, Georgia. 

The Tifton Integrative Precision Agriculture Research, Education and Demonstration Laboratory is expected to begin construction in 2025.

Learn more about UGA's efforts in Integrative Precision Agriculture at

May/June 2024 | Southeastern Peanut Farmer 23
The University of Georgia Tifton campus unveiled a mural to celebrate the 20th anniverary of academic programs. Inaugural class graduate Andrea Mullis, spoke during the ceremony and says, "May this mural forever serve as a testament to the transformative power of education and the enduring friendship we forged along the way." Photo credit: Tracey Vellidis, University of Georgia.

Washington Outlook

United States Trade Rep. Ambassador Katherine Tai testified April 16, 2024, in front of the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee. Throughout the hearing, there was a particular emphasis on agriculture issues and how recent trade policy is impacting agricultural industries. The recent "Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade" from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service and Foreign Agricultural Service projected an agricultural trade deficit of $30.5 billion in 2025.

In his questions to Ambassador Tai, U.S. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith stated:

"Ambassador Tai, the fact that you will not even admit to a $21 billion deficit last year under your watch on agriculture trade: that's disappointing. We have a serious problem when it comes to agriculture trade in this country, and it's because USTR and this Administration is out to lunch.

They have not been going against Thailand who has a 50 percent tariff on U.S. beef. They haven't been going after Kenya who has a 27 percent tariff on our agricultural products…I wish that you all would lead on protecting the American farmer."

Ambassador Tai defended the trade policy of the Biden administration, stating that "our Administration's economic plan is leading our country in the strongest economic recovery amongst all developed nations. More importantly, we are doing so in a way that democratizes economic opportunity for more people."

The USTR recently released the 2024 Trade Policy Agenda and 2023 Annual Report which outlines the Administration's trade priorities for the upcoming year. The document states:

"Our new approach to trade is centered on bringing more people into the process and developing

U.S. House Agriculture Committee plans to markup Farm Bill by Memorial Day

U.S. House Agriculture Committee Chairman G.T. Thompson, R-Pennsylvania, wrote in an op-ed on April 16 that "before Memorial Day, the House Committee on Agriculture will consider a farm bill that responds to a variety of crisis points, constituent priorities, needs of rural communities and the demands of the current economy, both domestically and abroad." This statement mirrors other statements he has made to press in recent months that the committee will release and consider a Farm Bill by the end of May.

U.S Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan, has also indicated that she will release her own Farm Bill framework in the coming weeks. This framework is likely to include the Chairwoman's crop insurance proposal, which reportedly requires producers to choose between more affordable crop insurance offerings and Agriculture Risk Coverage or Price Loss Coverage programs for crops.

There is still uncertainty of the status of any Farm Bill legislation's viability on the U.S. House and U.S. Senate floor this year, even if legislation is passed through either Agriculture Committee.

policies and initiatives that are resilient and sustainable and create broad-based growth. In 2024, our trade agenda will continue to focus on unlocking new opportunities for American workers and families—while also supporting and strengthening the middle class, driving decarbonization and sustainability, and creating goodpaying jobs across the American economy. In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, it also means fortifying relationships with our partners and allies and strengthening critical supply chains to withstand shocks and disruptions to the system and to defend democratic values."

Ambassador Tai also testified before the U.S. Senate Finance Committee on April 17, where she faced similar questions and criticisms from Senate Republicans on the agricultural trade deficit.

USDA issues Final Rule Updating School Nutrition Standards

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service recently issued a final rule updating the school nutrition standards. These changes to school meal programs go into effect in the 2025-26 school year. The key provisions for the updated standards include limits on added sugar and sodium, and updated whole grain and milk standards. K-12 schools serve nutritious breakfasts and lunches to nearly 30 million children every school day. These meals are the main source of nutrition for more than half of these children and they help improve child health.

Southeastern Peanut Farmer | May/June 2024 24
USTR Ambassador Katherine Tai testifies at U.S. House Ways and Means Committee

U.S. Peanut Federation signs onto letter supporting RUTF purchases by CCC

The U.S. Peanut Federation recently signed a letter with other agriculture groups supporting the purchase of ready-to-use-therapeuticfoods through the Commodity Credit Corporation. In October 2023, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Vilsack announced a $1 billion investment in the Commodity Credit Corporation to help address global hunger. However, RUTF has been determined to not be eligible for purchase under this program.

The letter states:

"We encourage you to use authorities from Section 5(c), to procure agricultural commodities (other than tobacco) for sale to other Government agencies, foreign governments and domestic, foreign or international relief or rehabilitation agencies, and to meet domestic requirements."

Further, the use of Section 5(c) will allow both USDA and the United States Agency for International Development greater flexibility to expand the number of American farmers that can assist in addressing global hunger. Using the broadest authorities possible under the CCC will allow for purchases of a broader range of commodities, including

RUTFs. Section 2 of the CCC Charter Act refers to agricultural commodities collectively as "agricultural commodities, products thereof, foods, feeds and fibers."

RUTF are made from U.S. commodities sourced in 28 states and are the single most effective treatment for child malnutrition. RUTF brings children suffering from the most severe form of malnutrition – known as "wasting" – back from the brink of death in a matter of six weeks. With a recovery rate of up to 90 percent, it's cost effective at about $1 per day per child. Ingredients include peanuts, milk powder, soybean oil/soy protein, sugar and a special vitamin mix. In 2022, the Biden Administration scaled its investment of RUTF to $200 million, which was further bolstered by an additional $270 million from philanthropic donors and other governments. This investment allowed nearly 7.3 million more children suffering from wasting to receive lifesaving treatment than the year before. USDA, leveraging CCC funds and working with USAID, is positioned to sustain this progress by including RUTFs in the CCC International Food Aid program."

U.S. House Ways and Means Committee passes Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) Reform Act

The U.S. House Ways and Means Committee passed the Generalized System of Preferences Reform Act recently in a 25-17 partisan vote. The GSP Reform Act, introduced by Rep. Adrian Smith, R-Nebraska, would reauthorize the GSP program until December 31, 2030. The legislation permanently bans China from the list of eligible countries and sets new country eligibility for participation to ensure fair treatment for U.S. agricultural exports, fair digital and tax treatment of U.S. companies and workers, democracy, good governance, and anti-corruption standards, and national security and foreign policy interests of the United States.

According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, "GSP is the largest and oldest U.S. trade preference program that provides nonreciprocal, duty-free treatment enabling many of the world's developing countries to spur diversity and economic growth through trade. Economic development is promoted by eliminating duties on thousands of products when imported from designated beneficiary countries and territories.

In addition to the new country eligibility requirements, this legislation creates the first agriculture-specific eligibility criteria for participating countries. This is intended to create

U.S. Senator Roger Marshall introduces legislation on Agricultural Disasters

U.S. Senator Roger Marshall, R-Kansas, recently introduced legislation that would prevent the U.S. Department of Agriculture from using a "progressive payment factor" in administering disaster assistance that disproportionately benefits small-scale or minority growers, as was done in the 2022 Emergency Relief Program. Senator Marshall's bill would also authorize a new round of ERP payments for 2023. The American Farm Bureau Federation estimates crop losses exceeded $21 billion last year nationwide.

Senator Marshall also led a letter to the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration urging leadership to include funding for a disaster program to address 2023 agricultural losses as they begin the stages of drafting the Fiscal Year 2025 funding bill.

In 2022, USDA had to prorate the payments because the amount of funding fell far short of the estimated uncovered losses.

However, congressional critics and other farm groups criticized the progressive factoring methodology and felt that the program punished farms with the largest losses.

In December, 141 agricultural groups, including the U.S. Peanut Federation, signed on to a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack opposing the current 2022 Emergency Relief Program.

additional leverage to open markets for American farmers. The legislation would allow removal of countries for placing non-science-based barriers on U.S. agricultural products or who provide unfair subsidies. Reforms would also utilize GSP to ensure fair digital trade and tax treatment for U.S. companies and workers, allowing for the removal of countries that impose discriminatory measures against the U.S.

May/June 2024 | Southeastern Peanut Farmer 25

1025 Sugar Pike Way · Canton, Georgia 30115 |(770) 751-6615 |

Meet the Farmer Chef Video Series features Americus farmer, Jess McNeil

Southern Peanut Growers was in the peanut field on May 2 introducing Chef Karl Gorline to peanut farmer Jess McNeil. Chef Karl is opening a new restaurant, Avize, on Atlanta's Westside later this summer. Jess McNeil is a seventh-generation peanut farmer in Americus, Georgia.

This first episode will focus on introducing how peanuts grow, all the research and care that has gone into increasing yields and efficiency on the farm, how peanuts in the crop rotation help to improve the soil and how important long-term care for the land is to farmers in general.

"I've been a chef in Atlanta for years, at restaurants such as Watershed, Atlas and The Woodall. It's always been important to me to know all about the food I serve," Chef Karl says. "My new restaurant, Avize, will have its own farm, but one of the few things we won't grow is peanuts. This is a very important crop here in Georgia so I'm excited for this opportunity to learn as much as I can about Georgia peanuts from an


The goal of the campaign is to leverage the all-time-high interest that chefs have in connecting to the farm and farmers who grow our food as well as their overwhelming interest in sustainability to showcase peanuts and ultimately increase

highlights early introduction of peanuts at Empowering Parenthood Conference

Southern Peanut Growers exhibited at the inaugural Empowering Parenthood Conference in Carrollton, Georgia, on April 13, 2024. More than 125 parents and expecting parents attended the event sponsored by The University of Georgia's Family and Consumer Science Extension Service. Leslie Wagner, SPG executive director, was on hand to discuss the importance and method of introducing peanuts as early as 4 – 6 months to prevent peanut allergy. The exhibit also featured recipes, nutrition information and samples of peanuts.

the usage of peanuts and peanut butter in restaurants across the country. The videos will be packaged into multiple usages for the foodservice and education portions of as well as partnerships with Chef’s Roll and foodservice influencers through social media.

Upcoming Events

• June 11 – 13 USA Peanut Congress, Amelia Island, Florida

• June 13 – 15 Georgia Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics Conference, Ameilia Island, Florida

• June 24 – 26 NPB School Nutrition Summit, San Antonio, Texas

• June 29 – July 2 Family, Career and Community Leaders of America National Conference, Seattle, Washington

• July 17 – 19 Southern Peanut Growers Conference, Savannah, Georgia

• July 23 Backyard Bash National Satellite Media Tour with Chef David Olsen

• July 24 Virginia Association of Teachers of Family and Consumer Sciences Conference, Harrisonburg, Virginia

Southeastern Peanut Farmer | May/June 2024 26
Jess McNeil (center), farmer from Americus, Ga., discusses peanut planting with Chef Karl Gorline of Avize restaurant in Atlanta, Ga. for a video series showcasing peanuts for foodservice education. Leslie Wagner, Southern Peanut Growers executive director, exhibits at the Empowering Parenthood Conference in Carrollton, Ga., and shares information about early introduction to prevent peanut allergy.

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