Legislative issues were at the forefront of discussions during the 30th Annual Georgia Peanut Farm Show and Conference held recently in Albany, Ga.

Bob Redding, Georgia Peanut Commission (GPC) Washington representative, discussed issues concerning budget reconciliation, disaster legislation, agriculture research, international trade and the upcoming farm bill.

During Redding's opening remarks, he urged growers to take advantage of a Web site, AmericanPeanuts.com, to contact their congressman and senators. The Web site, Redding says, allows farmers to stay abreast with current legislation and hearings on the upcoming farm bill. Redding urged growers to be proactive and to contact their congressman and senators about issues affecting them.

Redding informed growers that the House Agriculture Committee had scheduled farm bill hearings in early February in North Carolina and Alabama. “The GPC is very concerned about the loan repayment rate for peanuts being set to high,” Redding says. “After numerous meetings at USDA and on Capitol Hill, the GPC is hopeful that Congress will address the issue in the upcoming farm bill debate. The GPC will include this issue in the congressional hearing process.”

Additionally, Redding commended Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., and U.S. Senator Thad Cochran, R-Miss., who were able to block a payment limit amendment during the reconciliation debate. Chairman Chambliss also included language extending the 2002 farm bill monies through 2011. However, Redding says this language was deleted during conference.

In addition to Redding's keynote address, GPC presented awards to several individuals and organizations during the morning awards ceremony. The awards are as follows:

Distinguished Service Award — John Baldwin, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Northeast District Director of Extension, receives this year's Georgia Peanut Distinguished Award. Previously, Baldwin served as Extension Peanut Agronomist for the University of Georgia. This award is presented annually to an individual or an organization in recognition of outstanding achievement, superior leadership and exceptional service to Georgia's peanut growers and peanut industry.

Baldwin joined the University of Georgia's Faculty in 1987. Through the years, he acted either directly or indirectly as a technical advisor to the Georgia Peanut Commission, The Peanut Advisory Board, and the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation.

“John Baldwin's contribution to the industry may not have always been the obvious, but it definitely has been very tangible,” says Emory Murphy, Georgia Peanut Commission assistant executive director. “He is a pioneer in reducing costs and increasing yields with cultural practices such as twin rows, seed spacing, minimum-till, and rotation practices.”

Research and Education Award — The Georgia Peanut Research and Education Award is presented this year to Marshall Lamb, research leader at the USDA, ARS National Peanut Research Laboratory. Lamb's research is focused primarily on irrigation in peanut, cotton and corn and the development and technology transfer of expert systems to improve management decisions. Lamb's collaboration, analysis and inputs were critical to pioneering the development of “Expert Systems for the Peanut Industry.” This lead eventually to “FARM SUITE,” “IRRIGATOR PRO,” “HARVPRO,” “DRYLAND PRO” and other programs.

These programs have become an important broad collection and suite of software designed to improve decision-making and is used by all segments of the U.S. peanut industry.

Georgia Peanut Special Award — The Peanut Institute is a non-profit organization dedicated to expanding state-of-the-art knowledge regarding peanuts and peanut products and is this year's recipient of the Georgia Peanut Special Award. The Peanut Institute places a special emphasis on establishing sound science as the basis for food, nutrition, and health discussions about peanuts. Bryan Willis, chairman of the Peanut Institute, is vice-president of operations for Damascus Peanut Company.

Georgia Peanut Media Award — This year's media award is presented to the Sylvester Local News. Leigh Ford is the owner/publisher of the newspaper which is located in Sylvester, Ga. The media award is presented annually to a business or individual involved in the dissemination of peanut information and general publicity of peanuts through the media: radio, television, newspaper. The Sylvester Local News has been in business since 1884 and Ford purchased the paper in 1998 from Marian Sumner.

The one-day show offered farmers a full day to view the products and services of more than 60 exhibitors and a day of education. Farmers were provided an update on the latest research findings in the University of Georgia Peanut Conference including information on weed management, soil fertility, sod based rotation, irrigation and economics.

At the close of the day, William Daniel, Sr., peanut farmer from Leesburg, Ga., became the lucky winner of the $10,000 certificate towards the purchase of a peanut combine donated by AMADAS Industries and Michael Yearly of Cochran, Ga., received $10,000 cash from Kelley Manufacturing Company.