“One of the biggest hurdles we’re going to have is the funding cuts to the nutrition title programs, which really impact the funding for the farm bill,” he said. “SNAP programs and the WIC and school lunch programs are a big part of that, and there’s a lot more support now for locally grown and less processed foods. That could have an impact on produce growers.”

 

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“The regulations still have to be written, and as they say, the devil is in the details sometimes,” Smith said.

Beasley said the 2012 peanut crop was by far the most successful Georgia has seen, exceeding the 2011 yields by 1,000 pounds per acre. An unexpected rise in export of peanuts to China kept prices from dropping too far with such a large supply.

A different weather pattern in 2013 has affected planting, as growers have seen much cooler weather later into this year than last year. Many growers planted later in the spring, and Beasley said warmer weather will be needed in the fall.

 “It’s a complete turnaround from what we had last year,” he said. “It was very warm in early April last year, and we got some timely rain last July and August which made it such a good year. We’ll need some warm weather into late October this year because the start of planting was delayed, but that wouldn’t be that unusual to have those kinds of temperatures.”

Don Koehler, executive director of the Georgia Peanut Commission, said he expects debate to move to the floors of Congress in the next few weeks. He hopes the process is completed by the fall, which would leave growers with time to seek financing for the 2014 planting season.

"Both bills authorize programs that provide an economic benefit to rural areas whose economies are highly dependent on the success of agricultural production,” he said.

“We've got a lot of work to do to get us through that process. I'm optimistic when I look at the votes, and I think we have some major challenges staring us in the face. But getting it out of committee right now is a major step in the right direction."

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