Peanut leaders met with U. S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack during his recent visit to South Georgia.

He met with peanut leaders at the American Peanut Shellers Association office in Albany, Ga. Growers, buying points, shellers, manufacturers, U.S. Department of Agriculture officials along with local and state officials greeted the Secretary. U.S. Congressman Sanford Bishop hosted the meeting.

Armond Morris, chairman of the Georgia Peanut Commission, spoke on behalf of Georgia's 4,500 peanut farmers. Morris expressed concern to the Secretary for not including disaster assistance for peanuts in counties where assistance was provided to other commodities including rice, soybeans, cotton and sweet potatoes.

"The peanut industry is very disappointed in the disaster assistance package since peanuts were excluded," Morris says. "It's very difficult to promote a USDA program as a national program when commodities like peanuts and others are left out of the program. USDA should reconsider peanuts being included in the agricultural disaster program."

Additionally, Morris encouraged the department to increase peanut butter purchases for federal nutrition and food aid programs, and to continue offering storage and handling in the next farm bill.
"We hope you will work towards a good, strong healthy 2012 farm bill," Morris says. "We would like to continue the direct payments and programs of the 2008 farm bill so we can keep the economy moving throughout the peanut belt in Georgia and keep people employed."

Comments regarding the 2010 peanut crop were also delivered by Gerald Garland, president of the American Peanut Shellers Association (APSA), Jimmy Dorsett, chairman of the APSA Peanut Legislation Committee, and Gary Cromer of the National Peanut Buying Points Association.

Prior to the meeting, Secretary Vilsack announced that USDA has issued final 2009-crop counter-cyclical payments to farmers enrolled in the direct and counter-cyclical program for peanuts.
USDA announced on Oct. 4, 2010, that the final counter-cyclical payment rate for peanuts is $25 per ton ($0.0125 per pound). Producers who accepted a partial payment in March 2010 received $9.20 per ton ($0.0046 per pound). They are due an additional $15.80 per ton ($0.0079 per pound). The 2009 marketing year average price for peanuts was $434 per ton ($0.217 per pound). There were no 2008 crop peanut counter-cyclical payments.