Peanut Surplus

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The United States is facing a peanut explosion. Experts say a surplus of the nuts could lead to lower prices. You might be paying peanuts for peanuts.

Jackson County is one biggest peanut producing areas in the country, but farmers say the national surplus won't affect them. That doesn't mean they're out of the woods just yet.

With over 2,500 acres of peanuts planted last year, Jackson County ranks at the top of the list nationwide when it comes to producing peanuts.

The latest projections say the country may have too many peanuts with over 200,000 tons still not sold from the harvest of 2004.

Experts are predicting trouble for peanut commodity programs unless consumption picks up.

"It could actually be a good for the consumer because naturally when the supply is high the price is going to be down."

Peanuts and peanut products are increasing in popularity, both among consumers and among growers.

Ken Barton says, "In the past few years acreage has just continued to increase, and with the high yields that we've been making nationwide, that just contributes to the large supply."

Other peanut experts say the U.S. peanut surplus could be used to other advantages. Could the lowly peanut be a future source of fuel?

Ken Gorbit, a peanut breeder, says, "We're actually importing oil less than six months ago, so I consider that need not fully being met. We're importing oil from India or China. We can meet that need ourselves."

There may even be a peanut pump in our future.

"With the price of fuel like it is, somebody needs to start looking at using some of these peanuts that way because we couldn't come close to producing enough peanuts for that demand.”

So whether they're fried, boiled, or good old roasted, keep eating peanuts; there's plenty to go around.

Agricultural officials are predicting growers will produce another 2.3 million tons of peanuts in 2005.