“Peanut farmers have seen the handwriting on the wall. Instead of uniting behind the peanut program to the death, peanut farmers are now proposing, to the applause of their representatives in Congress, a marketing loan.”

Just got back from a peanut meeting at the Gulf of Mexico. And it wouldn't be too far off the mark to say that if we weren't at that sacred leisure temple called the Edgewater Resort in Panama City Beach, Fla., we could have been in a house of worship, given the biblical references.

Being a man who puts a lot of stock in things of a spiritual and religious nature, I naturally perk up when I hear folks making references to the Good Book.

The Bible, of course, is chock full of agricultural references. Israel was an agricultural nation, and many of the metaphors used in the Old Testament point to a common reference point that everyone of the day understood.

Still do.

The term “handwriting on the wall” didn't originate in the halls of Congress — although those there carry the pens that can do the handwriting on the wall. In the biblical context, the term is an omen — as in, this is bound to happen, not if and when, but this is bound to happen. Belshazzar saw the handwriting on the wall at his own feast. It told of changes, so to speak, in his life. (Daniel 5:6)

Stay with me. It does have application when talking about the peanut program.

Several peanut farmers I talked with indicated that “We saw the handwriting on the wall concerning the peanut program.” The message was pretty straightforward: We're not going to be able to hold on to the quota system anymore. In other words, the days of the quota system are numbered. That's pretty straightforward. The subtitles to this “handwriting” also include talk of a buyout.

In the early 1990s, something happened that changed the peanut industry. That something was called the North American Free Trade Agreement. The handwriting has been open to different interpretation over the last several years, but peanut farmers could see that it meant more foreign peanuts coming into the United States and lower prices.

Peanut farmers have seen the handwriting on the wall. Instead of uniting behind the peanut program to the death, peanut farmers are now proposing, to the applause of their representatives in Congress, a marketing loan.

Even organizations not normally allied with peanut farmers are chiming in their approval — and using their own biblical references.

Richard Pasco, who represents The American Peanut Product Manufacturers, Inc. made reference to Ecclesiastes 3:1 in talking about the time being right for change in the peanut program. “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven.”

Given the “handwriting on the wall” and the familiar “turn, turn, turn,” references, it's still good to hear from “on high” every now and then.

In the case of the farm bill, the word from on high comes from Congress.

“Drastic changes in the peanut program” will have to be made, Terry Everett, (R-Ala.) told the group at the Southern Peanut Growers Conference. Everett is chairman of the House Specialty Crops Subcommittee.


e-mail: cyancy@primediabusiness.com