What is in this article?:
• Through ups and downs of peanuts, Billy Bain has remained steadfast in his stewardship of the land and for giving back to agriculture more than he takes from it.
• After living through the good times and the bad times of Virginia’s peanut industry, Billy Bain is optimistic some of the good times will return.
VIRGINIA GROWER Billy Bain is one of three winners of the first Naturally Remarkable Planters Award.
Did not over-produce
“After we left the acreage system and went to a quota system, the Virginia-Carolina growers were able to control acreage to meet demand and not over-produce as some other growing areas did. I think growers in our area had been in the peanut business a long time and understood how the system worked,” he adds.
“When we were under the quota system growers in Virginia and North Carolina rarely over-produced and as a result 90 percent of the time all our peanuts were bought in the buy-back and were not a cost to the federal government.”
During the glory days of Virginia peanuts, the state produced over 100,000 acres annually. For years and years, Bain recalls, the state grew 75,000 acres of peanuts. Unfortunately, when the government ended the quota system, many growers got out of peanuts.
In recent years, peanut production in Virginia has dipped to near 12,000 acres. With prices good for the 2012 crop, Bain anticipates acreage may climb back to more than 20,000. “I would just hate to see Virginia not be a major supplier of high quality peanuts,” he says.
On the good side of the ledger, he adds, there are companies, like Planters that only use U.S. grown peanuts in the products. I wish all U.S. end users would make the commitment to use only U.S.-grown peanuts, he adds.
In recognition of his lifetime of contributions to the peanut industry, Planters recently named Bain as one of three winners of the first Naturally Remarkable Planters Award.
“Winning the award and joining my family and friends in New York City for the awards ceremony was a wonderful thing, but the best part of the award was the $10,000 that can be used to revitalize our local rural economy,” the Virginia grower says.
In addition to the prestigious Planters award, Bain was named Virginia Farmer of the Year in 2009 and competed for Southeast Farmer of the Year at Sunbelt Agriculture Expo. He has won numerous environmental awards.
Bain frequently entertains school groups at his farm and notes that giving back to the community is more rewarding than winning awards.
He also hosted the Virginia Ag Expo in 2008that took an incredible amount of time, but he says the rewards were well worth the effort.
Exactly how the $10,000 Planters award will be used to help his community is yet to be determined, he says. However, as with most rural Southeast areas, Dinwiddie County is in need of revitalization projects and the money will be a nice shot-in-the-arm to the rural economy there.