The fourth annual Southern Peanut Growers Conference convenes this year in Panama City Beach, Fla., at the Edgewater Beach Resort. “With all of the changes we're facing, we expect this year's conference to be the biggest and most interesting Growers Conference to date,” says Randy Griggs, executive director of the Alabama Peanut Producers Association.

The conference, scheduled for July 21-23, is presented by the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation in conjunction with the University of Georgia, Auburn University and the University of Florida.

Southeast Farm Press and Southwest Farm Press are included among this year's sponsors.

This year's conference will focus on the new peanut program and its impact on farmers and the industry as a whole, says Griggs. “Participants will hear from experts how the new regulations will affect everything, from taxes to how you market your peanuts. You'll also hear the latest on peanut research and promotional activities,” he says.

“In addition to the educational opportunities, you'll have time to network with other growers and industry members at break and meal functions. There also will be free time to pay a round of golf or spend an afternoon on the beach with your family,” says Griggs.

Registration for the conference will begin at 1 p.m. on Sunday, July 21, followed by a Welcoming Reception/Luau sponsored by Bayer. On Monday, July 22, the conference will open with a Prayer Breakfast and the Valent Valor Award at 7:30 a.m.

The first general session begins at 8:45 a.m. on Monday and features “The Washington Agenda.” “The Senate Perspective” will be presented by Sen. Zell Miller (D-Ga.) and “The House Perspective will be presented by Rep. Terry Everett (R-Ala.) A session on peanut regulations will be presented by Theresa Lassiter.

The second general session is entitled “The Impact of the New Program,” and will feature segments on “The Industry Impact of the New Program,” “The Farm Impact of the New Program” and “Tax Implications of the New Farm Bill.”

Research breakout sessions, from 1 until 3 p.m. will feature the following topics: “Cost-Effective Disease Management Strategies,” “What Cultivars will Replace Georgia Green?” and “Cost-Effective Weed and Insect Management Systems.”

A highlight of this year's conference will be the presentation of the Farm Press Peanut Profitability Awards. The awards program, in its third year, is sponsored in 2002 by BASF Corporation. The awards will be presented during a breakfast ceremony on Tuesday, July 23, at 7:30 a.m.

The Peanut Profitability Awards will recognize production efficiency winners from the Southwest, Southeast and Virginia-Carolina regions. Immediately following the breakfast, honorees will share some of their efficient production practices during a panel discussion moderated by Marshall Lamb, economist at the National Peanut Research Laboratory and advisor for the awards program.

The third general session will begin at 9 a.m. on Tuesday and will focus on “The Future of Peanut Marketing.” The fourth general session, scheduled for 10:15 a.m. is entitled “Promoting Your Product.”

A National Peanut Board Grower Listening Session is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 23.

The final conference event will be a dinner with entertainment sponsored by Syngenta, beginning at 7:30 p.m.

The Southern Peanut Growers Conference also will feature a golf tournament on Monday, July 22, and various programs for spouses and children.

For more information about the conference, call one of these state check-off associations: Alabama Peanut Producers (334) 792-6482; Florida Peanut Producers Association (850) 526-2590; or the Georgia Peanut Commission (229) 386-3470.

e-mail: phollis@primediabusiness.com