RECORD CROWD ATTENDS SOUTHERN PEANUT GROWERS CONFERENCE
PANAMA CITY, Fla., - Nearly 600 peanut farmers and industry leaders attended the annual Southern Peanut Growers Conference (SPGC) in Panama City Beach, Fla. last week where drought conditions and the upcoming farm bill dominated discussions.
|From left, Alabama Farmers Federation Southeast Area Vice President Ricky Wiggins of Covington County, Alabama Peanut Producers Association President Carl Sanders of Coffee County and U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher, R-Tenn., discuss the upcoming farm bill at the Southern Peanut Growers Conference in Panama City, Fla. last week.|
"We had a strong crowd and delivered information on strong issues growers are facing," said Randy Griggs, executive director of the Alabama Peanut Producers Association, a division of the Alabama Farmers Federation. "The conference continues to be a successful event, delivering an exceptional educational program for producers"
U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher, R-Tenn., was among those who addressed farmers at the conference. He is a seventh generation cotton farmer and said he is proud to represent agriculture and help to educate his colleagues about the importance of the industry. He said he would like to see the farm bill postponed until after the 2012 election.
"We've got to make sure as we approach writing a new farm bill that we're very levelheaded," he said. "Farmers understand that we've all got to tighten our belts a little bit, but we can't kid ourselves and think that we can balance the budget on the back of one percent of the budget, which is what ag gets."
Mary Kay Thatcher, senior director of congressional relations for American Farm Bureau Federation, is a veteran when it comes to farm bills. She told farmers they may see two new farm bills if the liability ceiling negotiations indicates the kind of shortfalls being considered for agriculture.
"We're unfortunately going to take a pretty fair amount of cuts this year, probably in the range of $30-40 billion out of the commodity and conservation titles," she said. "If indeed we lose that much money, it will sort of require us to write a farm bill in the next couple of weeks, and then to write it next year for re-evaluating what we have left and looking at other titles."
Bob Redding, who represents the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation in Washington DC, says there has never been a more important time for farmers to have their voices heard in the nation's capitol.
"Farmers need to keep up with what's going on, let their congressmen and senators know exactly how they feel and what they would like to see in a farm bill," Redding said.
In addition to talking about the future of the industry, farmers also learned about the importance of financial planning.
Dr. Marshall Lamb with the National Peanut Research Lab told farmers that sound financial planning is just as important as planning what crops to plant. He emphasized that current farm commodity prices are volatile.
"The price for cotton, corn, wheat, soybeans are at all-time, unprecedented levels," he said, noting that even peanuts are experiencing price volatility. "The best way to cope with it is to know from your farm plan where your break-even prices are and when you reach those break-evens, go ahead and contract something," Marshall said. "A farmer never went broke making a profit."