Potential Problems Ahead for Peanut Producers

By: Bergen Baucom Email
By: Bergen Baucom Email

Roughly 75 percent of America's peanut supply comes from farms in Florida, Alabama and Georgia. But, proposed changes to the Senate's Federal Farm Bill could effect the livelihood of local peanut producers.

Legislative changes to the bill attempted to make it more generic. And, because peanuts are a specialty crop, Michael Davis, a peanut farmer and the Florida representative to the National Peanut Board, told us the bill could have major implications.

"We have different requirements" he said. Our costs are higher, we have to have more specialized equipment. So the farm bill that works in the Midwest where they grow corn soybean and grain doesn't necessarily work for the Southeastern peanut and cotton growers" Davis said.

But that wasn't the only issue farmers had with the bill. It could also threaten producer's security by excluding the price supports that protect farmers during times of severe market swings. It's a provision that had been untouched for years until now.

"Without that safety net, farmers are truly in jeopardy. You don't know from year to year, because of the inclimate weather we have so often, whether you'll be able to produce a crop, pay your bills and essentially, stay on the farm" said Ken Barton, the Executive Director of the Florida Peanut Producers Association.

But, the House's version of the bill included safety nets and provisions for peanut farmers. Both bills will be sent to a conference committee for a final draft.

"We're hopeful with our strength on the House side we'll be able to maintain some of those provisions for peanut farmers" Barton said. The final version is expected to be drafted by September.

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