Peanut Farmers Reflect on Farm Bill Failure

Southeastern peanut farmers produce 65-percent of the nation's peanut crop.

Hundreds of them from Alabama, Georgia, Missisippi and Florida are meeting in panama city beach this weekend for the annual Southern Peanut Growers Conference.

One of the hot topics this year is the effects of the Farm Bill failure on their industry.

As day two of the three day conference kicked off, peanut growers attended several sessions on the rise of solar energy, disease management, and production techniques.

Edgewater Beach Resort Sales Director Tricia Petty says, "We've enjoyed thoroughly and have an amazing relationship with this group of folks."

The conference has been held at the Edgewater Beach Resort for the past 13 years.

Usually discussions center on advancements in growing techniques and the latest methods of controlling weeds and pests.

But this year the Farm Bill, or the lack one one, is weighing heavily on farmers' minds.

The Farm Bill provides a sort of safety net for harvesters in case of a bad crop season.

Alabama Peanut Producer Executive Director Randy Griggs says, "The problem we have today is the lack of action by a Congress in that the Farm Bill is a five year program, so we're going year to year and month to month not knowing what the rules of the game is for the next crop."

House Republicans and Democrats were split over a controversial food stamps amendment to the bill.

That led to a scaled-down version, that does not address food stamps.

Griggs says, "And not knowing what those rules are makes it difficult for everyone and increases everyone's frustration levels with congress."

Peanut growers are hopeful they'll still see a Farm Bill passed this year.

Syngenta supplies technology for peanut harvesters. District Sales Manager Lyle Stewart says, "I don't see them buying more products because they got costs associated with this that they need to watch pretty closely."

Congress extended the current Farm Bill for the 2013 crop year.

The House and Senate Agriculture Committees began meetings yesterday on a new bill, with the Senate requesting a formal conference with the House.