Peanut farmers in the Virginia-Carolina region are considering filing a class-action lawsuit against the Risk Management Agency for breach of contract.

At issue is the almost 15-cents-per-pound drop in the guaranteed risk protection price from January — when producers signed crop insurance contracts — to May 13, 2002, when the new farm bill became law, says Bob Sutter, CEO of the North Carolina Peanut Growers Association.

Producers have already met with an attorney regarding the possibility of a lawsuit. Organizers are gathering an information list of producers who would either be interested in receiving information about the lawsuit or being party to it.

A Raleigh, N.C.,-based attorney believes the caveat could be filing the suit before peanut producers file claims on their other crops.

“The concept of the government entering into a contract and then unilaterally changing the contract is what we're talking about here,” Sutter said at the 49th annual meeting of the Peanut Growers Cooperative Marketing Association in Williamston, N.C.

“The feeling of the producers and the lawyer is that this is a contract issue,” Sutter says.