An Alabama congressman recognized by his colleagues as the nation's foremost advocate for peanut farmers has announced his retirement from the U.S. House. Rep. Terry Everett has represented Alabama's second district — including the state's peanut-rich southeast region — for 15 years.

In announcing his retirement, Everett said serving in the House had been an honor, privilege and responsibility he had taken seriously. “I've worked hard at it, and hope my efforts to serve our nation, state and the second district have been well received,” he said.

Coming on the heels of the resignation of USDA Secretary Mike Johanns, Everett pledged to continue work on finalizing a new farm bill. “I still have 15 months remaining in my term, so I intend to keep working hard for Alabama's second district, including: work on a new farm bill, my farm reservoir bill to combat drought, and my efforts on behalf of America's national security.”

Everett's legislative career will likely be defined by his work on crafting national agricultural policy, especially for Southern commodities such as peanuts, cotton and corn, and his defense of the military installations in his district at Maxwell Air Force Base and Fort Rucker. Politically, he has always been considered a conservative on social and economic issues and has remained a defender of the decision to go to war in Iraq and the Bush administration's national security policies.

His last margin of victory in Alabama's second district was by 40 points.

In February, Everett will celebrate his 71st birthday.

“While there remains much work to be accomplished by Congress, I made a difficult decision not to seek election for a ninth term. The decision was difficult because of my love for the people of my district, and my love for the work I do on my three committees. It had been my intention until recently to seek re-election, including a run for the chair or ranking member on the Committee on Agriculture. However, there is a season for all things and it is time for me to enter the next phase of my life, and pass the mantle to the next generation,” he said in announcing his retirement.

Everett says his health has been good, but he has had two attacks of shingles in the past three years. “This resulted in nerve damage to my right foot that has not been completely restored, which causes a few problems.“While I have many people to thank, I must first thank my wife Barbara whose support, not only during these 15 years in Congress, but during the 38 years of our marriage, has made this possible. Also, no congressional office has had the outstanding staff that I have been blessed with all these years. What success my office has achieved is in large part due to their outstanding work. Finally, I will always be grateful to those who have voted for and supported me in Congress. This has been a wonderful opportunity to serve our nation that so few Americans have had,” said Everett.