Southern Peanut Farmers Federation launches ‘Peanut Program Works’ website and video

IMG_7122_300dpiDOTHAN, Ala. – The Southern Peanut Farmers Federation today launched a campaign website, www.PeanutProgramWorks.com, and video to showcase the benefits of the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program in the 2014 Farm Bill and highlight its importance to farmers, their families and communities. The website, through a series of farmer profiles, an informational video and fact points, demonstrates how so many peanut farmers rely on the stability brought to their market through the PLC program, which is known as the Peanut Program, and why it must be retained in the upcoming Farm Bill.

“The Peanut Program works,” said Armond Morris, chairman of the Georgia Peanut Commission and member of the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation. “It creates stability giving farmers the ability to secure loans, contract with shellers, buy from chemical and feed companies, and invest in farm capital equipment.”

The Peanut Program has given farmers like Michael Davis, a sixth-generation farmer from Graceville, Florida, the reassurance they need to continue farming. “The Peanut Program serves as an important backstop allowing us to plan for the long term. Without the Peanut Program, I believe that one-third of the farmers I know would go out of business, which would dramatically impact our communities.”

Through the website, SPFF aims to educate policymakers, farmers and the agriculture community about why the Peanut Program must be retained in the upcoming Farm Bill. The Peanut Program is a sound, market-based solution that offers farmers a necessary price floor to support continued stability and access to lending, regardless of what is happening in the larger market. The program also helps to meet the ever-increasing demand for peanuts both domestically and internationally. Peanuts have seen continued per capita consumption growth for years, jumping from 6.60 pounds per capita to 7.41 between 2012 and 2016.[i]

Caleb Bristow, executive director of the Alabama Peanut Producers Association, said: “In the supply chain for peanuts, what’s good for farmers is good for consumers. Changing the Peanut Program would have detrimental consequences for not only family-run farms like mine and rural communities across the southeast, but it would threaten the availability of a healthy and nutritious energy source for billions of peanut lovers around the world.”

Peanut Program Works’ main message directly combats the attempts by the Florida Peanut Federation to drastically lower reference prices and destabilize a program that works for peanut farmers, their families and their surrounding communities.

Don Koehler, executive director of the Georgia Peanut Commission and a member of the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation, said that the policy advocated by the FPF would benefit only a small number of their members at the expense of peanut farmers throughout the Southeast.

“The fact is the Florida Peanut Federation would undermine the market-based Peanut Program that works for peanut farmers, our families and our communities by pushing to dramatically lower the reference price and championing a self-serving effort on behalf of a few farmers who want to arbitrarily declare peanut base – a move that would put farmers in our community out of business and wreak chaos in the marketplace,” Koehler said.

“Peanuts aren’t publicly traded on the futures market so the price of peanuts isn’t set until well after the peanuts are planted, and we’ve sunk big money into our crop. In order to meet the growing global demand for peanuts, farmers need a system in place that provides stability over time. And fortunately, we have one,” said Mike Jordan, a Jackson County, Florida farmer.

The website, which was launched while the peanut industry was meeting at the 21st Annual USA Peanut Congress, urges and equips users to take initial steps towards understanding the Peanut Program and its sustained benefits, as well as the unreasoned claims made against it. Protect the Peanut Program that helps protect us—visit www.PeanutProgramWorks.com to learn more.

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[i] Source: USDA Peanut Stocks and Processing report; excludes peanut oil

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Southern Peanut Farmers Federation applauds U.S. House Ag Committee Listening Session

2017_fblisteningsessionfla_084sGAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Southern Peanut Farmers Federation today applauded U.S. House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway and the other members of the committee who held a listening session today about the 2018 Farm Bill.

“I’m pleased Chairman Conaway was in Florida today and wanted to hear directly from peanut farmers,” said Armond Morris, chairman of the Georgia Peanut Commission and member of the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation. “The Peanut Program works. It’s a market-based program that brings stability to peanut farmers, our families and our communities. I was pleased to be able to share with the Chairman and Members of his committee, including those from the Georgia delegation, Congressmen Scott, Allen and Bishop, how the program helps farmers secure loans that allows us to plan for the long haul.”

Joining Morris at the listening session were:

  • Don Koehler, Executive Director, Georgia Peanut Commission
  • Gerald Long, President, Georgia Farm Bureau
  • Will Ellis, Peanut Grower and owner of Jeff Davis Peanut Buying Point
  • Larry Ford, Peanut Grower
  • Ken Barton, Peanut Grower and Executive Director of the Florida Peanut Producers Association
  • Caleb Bristow, Executive Director, Alabama Peanut Producers Association

Ken Barton, executive director of the Florida Peanut Producers Association, said the listening session was an ideal format for members of the Agriculture Committee to be in Florida and understand how the Peanut Program works to support farmers and communities. “I’m especially grateful to our Florida delegation, Congressmen Dunn and Yoho for hosting today’s event. While citrus is bigger than peanuts in Florida, our delegation understands how important the Peanut Program is to Florida’s economy. Today was a good opportunity to discuss how a fair reference price brings certainty to farming – both when demand is high, like it is currently, and during times of economic downturn.”

The Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program, which was included in the 2014 Farm Bill, works for farmers and consumers. It is a common-sense and market-based solution offering farmers a price floor that promotes constancy and access to lending amidst market uncertainty. Since peanut reference prices are set by the Farm Bill and applied for a full five years, the system in place ensures stability in times of both prosperity and times of economic downturn. This underscores why a realistic reference price is paramount. The market-based Peanut Program serves as an important backstop to secure loans. Without the certainty the peanut program brings to peanut farmers, banks would not extend loans – putting many peanut farmers out of business.

“Congress needs to maintain the reference price in the 2018 Farm Bill,” said Larry Ford, a peanut farmer from Greenwood, Florida. “The old adage: ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ is true when it comes to the Peanut Program. When demand for peanuts is high, the program doesn’t cost the government pennies on the dollar, yet the program still delivers on the certainty we need to secure loans. And when the economy takes a downturn, the Peanut Program can serve as a lifeline to keep us from going bankrupt.”

Demand for peanuts is currently on the rise and exceeds supply as interest in the health benefits of peanuts continues to grow. Peanuts have seen continued per capita consumption growth for years, jumping from 6.60 pounds per capita to 7.41 between 2012 and 2016.[i] This means that market prices are expected to increase and Peanut Program support to farmers, and cost to the government, will be minimal.

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Click here to watch the archived listening session.


[i] Source: USDA Peanut Stocks and Processing report; excludes peanut oil

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Mike Conaway, Ted Yoho and Neal Dunn: Input from the field needed for farm bill

Take a step back and listen.

That’s important advice to anyone working in Washington, but especially to those of us fortunate enough to represent our friends and neighbors in the halls of Congress.

And nowhere does that ring clearer than within the agricultural community. With less than 2 percent of Americans directly involved in production agriculture, the few caretakers of our land and natural resources are a critical source of knowledge about what is and isn’t working in U.S. agricultural policy.

President Eisenhower said it best, ”… farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you’re a thousand miles from the corn field.” You need to get in the field and hear from those who know.

That’s why on Saturday, we’re trading in our suits and ties for jeans and boots to join several other members of the House Agriculture Committee for a listening session with the farmers, ranchers and stakeholders throughout the region who have a vested interest in the next farm bill.

We don’t need to tell Florida farmers and ranchers that times have been tough. With net farm income dropping by 50 percent over the past four years, the agricultural economy has experienced the largest four-year percentage drop since the Great Depression. Now, more than ever, we need a farm bill to address the concerns facing production agriculture and all of rural America.

So we’re looking to Florida and its neighbors for help

Writing the farm bill is a big task, with a lot of moving parts — and it’s vitally important we get the policy right. The bill includes the risk management tools that are critical to helping farmers and ranchers endure tough economic times. It includes voluntary, incentive-based assistance to aid farmers in conserving and improving our water, air and wildlife habitat. It supports research to ensure that our farmers and ranchers are able to produce more with less. And it includes vital nutrition assistance for our most vulnerable citizens.

We’ve eliminated planting restrictions — farmers can grow whatever the market demands, including nutritious fruits and vegetables. There are now more than 100 crops — including virtually all specialty crops — that are eligible for federal crop insurance, something vitally important to Florida. And, we’ve vastly increased our support for specialty crop research through the Specialty Crop Research Initiative.

These policies are essential to maintaining the vibrant agricultural economy Florida has come to depend upon. Florida provides the country with an abundance of products, including fruits, vegetables, peanuts, sugarcane, cotton and nursery products. The state leads the nation in the production of oranges, ranks second in vegetable production and Florida’s beef cattle industry is among the oldest and largest in the country. It is also the home to a number of well-respected colleges and universities where agricultural research and extension programs remain a top priority, including the University of Florida and Florida A&M University, both land-grant universities.

So we speak for the whole committee when we say we are eager for the input of Florida’s producers and stakeholders. We want to know what policy changes would benefit you and your industry, and believe it is essential we ensure all commodities and stakeholders have a seat at the table to express their ideas for improvements, understanding the serious budget constraints we face as a country.

Ultimately, we’re committed to providing Americans with a strong farm bill. Our U.S. agriculture community is as wide and diverse as its citizens, with each sector facing different challenges and opportunities. Every group has its own story to tell and a unique stake in the policy. Yet, the thing that unites us is the understanding that agriculture is important to every American and is vital to feeding and clothing our nation and the world.

— U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Gainesville, and Rep. Neal Dunn, R-Panama City, are members of the House Agriculture Committee and Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, is chairman.

Via: The Gainesville Sun

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May/June 2017 Southeastern Peanut Farmer

mayjune2017_cvrThe May/June 2017 issue of the Southeastern Peanut Farmer is now available online.
Click here!

This issues features:

  • Farming the Delta
  • Irrigation Guidebook
  • Sunbelt Expo Field Day
  • Check off reports from the state grower
    organizations
  • Washington Update
  • Southern Peanut Growers Update
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UGA Insect Scouting Schools to be held in Tifton and Midville, Georgia

UGA Extension peanut entomologist Mark Abney advocates insect scouting. Photo credit: University of Georgia.

UGA Extension peanut entomologist Mark Abney advocates insect scouting.
Photo credit: University of Georgia.

The annual University of Georgia Insect Scouting Schools are open to farmers, consultants and those interested in learning how to diagnose insect damage on high-value agricultural crops like cotton, peanuts and soybeans.

The schools will be held at the UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center in Tifton, Georgia, on Monday, June 12, and at the Southeast Georgia Research and Education Center in Midville, Georgia, on Tuesday, June 20.

UGA Cooperative Extension entomologists Mark Abney and Phillip Roberts will conduct both trainings, which will be held from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Participants will learn basic information on identification of insects and damage, pests’ natural enemies and scouting procedures. The schools will include an in-field review and cover insect and caterpillar pests, beneficial insects and safety.

“No matter the year, you can almost guarantee that insect pressure will be high. Whether you’re talking about burrower bugs in peanuts, thrips in cotton and peanuts, or the kudzu bug in soybeans, there are pests out there that can inflict significant damage on crops if our farmers are not monitoring carefully,” Roberts said. “That’s why we stress the importance of scouting and scouting regularly.”

Beginning scouts will be introduced to insect detection, while experienced scouts and producers could use the sessions as a review.

“These schools offer hands-on training from experienced entomologists who know what to look for in the field,” Roberts said. “All farmers who are producing row crops this year will benefit from these scouting schools.”

Roberts stresses pest management through scouting. UGA Extension advises farmers to scout their crops every week.

To register for the scouting school in Tifton, contact Debbie Rutland at 229-386-3424. To register for the Midville scouting school, contact Peyton Sapp at 706-554-2119.

(by Clint Thompson, news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences based in Tifton.)

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Sonny Perdue Sworn in as 31st U.S. Secretary of Agriculture

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Sonny Perdue, with his wife Mary, takes the oath of office administered by Associate Justice Clarence Thomas. Photo credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Sonny Perdue was sworn in as the 31st U.S. Secretary of Agriculture by fellow Georgian and Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Clarence Thomas in a brief ceremony today at the Supreme Court building.  The U.S. Senate confirmed Secretary Perdue by a vote of 87-to-11 on Monday evening.  After Secretary Perdue took the oath of office, he addressed employees at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) before getting to work on his first day.  Also this morning, USDA launched his official Twitter handle: @SecretarySonny .

“The only legacy that I seek is the only one that any grandparent or parent seeks – to be good stewards, and to hand off our nation, our home, our fields, our forests, and our farms to the next generation in better shape than we found it,” Perdue said.  “Making sure that Americans who make their livelihoods in the agriculture industry have the ability to thrive will be one of my top priorities. I am committed to serving the customers of USDA, and I will be an unapologetic advocate for American agriculture.”

Perdue’s policies as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture will be guided by four principles which will inform his decisions.  First, he will maximize the ability of the men and women of America’s agriculture and agribusiness sector to create jobs, to produce and sell the foods and fiber that feed and clothe the world, and to reap the earned reward of their labor. It should be the aim of the American government to remove every obstacle and give farmers, ranchers, and producers every opportunity to prosper.  Second, he will prioritize customer service every day for American taxpayers and consumers.  They will expect, and have every right to demand, that their government conduct the people’s business efficiently, effectively, and with the utmost integrity.  Third, as Americans expect a safe and secure food supply, USDA will continue to serve in the critical role of ensuring the food we put on the table to feed our families meets the strict safety standards we’ve established.  Food security is a key component of national security, because hunger and peace do not long coexist.  And fourth, Perdue will always remember that America’s agricultural bounty comes directly from the land.  And today, those land resources sustain more than 320 million Americans and countless millions more around the globe.  Perdue’s father’s words still ring true: We’re all stewards of the land, owned or rented, and our responsibility is to leave it better than we found it.

“As secretary, I will champion the concerns of farmers, ranchers, foresters, and producers, and will work tirelessly to solve the issues facing our farm families,” Perdue said.  “I am proud to have been given this opportunity and look forward to rolling up my sleeves and getting to work as we continue to move the USDA and our nation forward.”

Upon nominating Secretary Perdue in January, President Donald J. Trump said, “Sonny Perdue is going to accomplish great things as Secretary of Agriculture. From growing up on a farm to being governor of a big agriculture state, he has spent his whole life understanding and solving the challenges our farmers face, and he is going to deliver big results for all Americans who earn their living off the land.”

 

 

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April 2017 Southeastern Peanut Farmer

The April 2017 issue of the Southeastern Peanut Farmer is now available online.
Click here!

april2017sepf_cvrThis issue features:

  • Peanut Leadership Academy meets for second session in Albany
  • Boyd family named National Outstanding Young Farmers
  • Peanut Disease Guidebook
  • Peanut Insect Guidebook
  • Census of Agriculture
  • McMillan testifies on farm bill
  • Check off reports from the state grower organizations
  • Southern Peanut Growers Update
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Georgia peanut farmers need to consider replanting options in timely manner

Dryland peanuts in a field in Georgia in 2014. Photo credit: University of Georgia CAES.

Dryland peanuts in a field in Georgia in 2014.
Photo credit: University of Georgia CAES.

Georgia peanut farmers who plant a crop in mid-to-late April should make a decision on a second crop within two to four weeks of planting their initial crop. University of Georgia researcher and systems peanut agronomist Scott Tubbs helps farmers make that decision.

Tubbs’ research focuses on the economical feasibility of replanting peanuts.

“We want farmers to make those replanting decisions as early as possible, but you do have to give the peanuts enough time to come up (and be) fairly confident the majority of emergence has occurred. If you plant in relatively cool conditions, you could have a lot of variability in emergence,” Tubbs said.

Spotty rows, which are the result of improper plant stands, can significantly reduce yields. Tubbs stresses the importance of allowing the plants to emerge.

“In Plains, Georgia, a few years ago, I had a research trial that I assessed seven days after planting. It wasn’t long enough. I went back at about 14 days and we did our counts and started to consider things. After 17 or even 20 days, we looked at referenced rows and there were quite a few more that had come up in that timeframe,” Tubbs said.

Late-planted peanuts — those planted in late May — need to be checked for emergence between the two- and three-week window. Tubbs insists that checking at four weeks is way too late.

“The longer you wait, the bigger the initial plants (those planted in late May) get, and then they’re going to dwarf any replanted plants,” Tubbs said.

Replanting is necessary when farmers do not get an ideal plant stand.

Poor seed emergence can result from the germination percentage of the seed, handling or storage of the seed, and the previous year’s weather conditions. The likelihood of emergence is lower if the seed receives little to no water.

Other factors contributing to poor seed emergence involve management conditions, like whether the peanuts were planted too early, the soil temperature was too low, or an herbicide was sprayed at the wrong time. Weather patterns can also impact peanut seed production.

“Even if soil temperatures are adequate, if a cold front comes through or we experience an unexpected rainfall event that cools off the soil temperature quickly, it can shock the seedlings and result in a poor stand,” he said.

Tubbs defines a good plant stand as 2.5 plants per foot based on UGA research over the last five years. Considering the costs to replant — labor, additional seed, equipment, etc. — it is not economically feasible to replant if initial planting produced at least 2.5 plants per foot.

If a farmer’s peanut field has two plants per foot or less, it is economically acceptable to replant, he said.

Peanuts are a high-value crop in Georgia, generating more than $684 million in farm gate value in 2015, according to the UGA Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development.

by Clint Thompson, news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences based in Tifton

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U.S. peanut industry donates 30,000 jars of peanut butter to Capital Area Food Bank

U.S. peanut industry representatives from the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation, American Peanut Shellers Association and National Peanut Buying Points Association join with U.S. Representative Sanford Bishop, D-Georgia, (center) to donate 30,000 jars of peanut butter to the Capital Area Food Bank in Washington, D.C. on National Ag Day, March 21, 2017.

U.S. peanut industry representatives from the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation, American Peanut Shellers Association and National Peanut Buying Points Association join with U.S. Representative Sanford Bishop, D-Georgia, (center) to donate 30,000 jars of peanut butter to the Capital Area Food Bank in Washington, D.C. on National Ag Day, March 21, 2017.

The U.S. peanut industry donated more than 30,000 jars of peanut butter to Capital Area Food Bank in Washington, D.C. on National Ag Day, March 21, 2017. The Capital Area Food Bank is the largest organization in the Washington metro area working to solve hunger and its companion problems: chronic undernutrition, heart disease, and obesity. The donation was made possible by the partners of the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation, which includes Alabama Peanut Producers Association, Florida Peanut Producers Association, Georgia Peanut Commission and Mississippi Peanut Growers Association.

“We have found that peanut butter is one of the most requested items by food banks nationwide”, says Caleb Bristow, Alabama Peanut Producers Association executive director and Southern Peanut Farmers Federation member. “Not only is it a high-quality product, but it is full of nutrition and tastes great. On behalf of the Southern Peanut Farmer’s Federation, representing peanut farmers all across the Southeast, we are excited and proud to have this opportunity to provide this donation to the Capital Area Food Bank.”

Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr., representative of Georgia’s second congressional district, joined the Federation members during the donation.

“I am honored to serve the top peanut producing congressional district in the country. Peanuts are a vital product of Middle and Southwest Georgia, and a key ingredient for an assortment of delicious and nutritious food products,” Congressman Bishop says. “I applaud the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation for their donation of 30,000+ jars of Peanut Proud peanut butter to the Capital Area Food Bank. This kind and generous donation will aid the Food Bank in their efforts to feed and provide for the surrounding community.”

By partnering with 444 community organizations in D.C., Maryland and Virginia, as well as delivering food directly into hard to reach areas, the CAFB is helping 540,000 people each year get access to good, healthy food.

“We applaud their focus on nutrition combined with educational support,” says Armond Morris, chairman of the Georgia Peanut Commission and Southern Peanut Farmers Federation member. “In the Washington, D.C., area 700,000 residents are at risk of hunger and we are proud as an industry to help support the food bank that is serving families in need in the area.”

Donations from organizations such as the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation are essential to the food bank’s operations, and allow the Capital Area Food Bank to distribute 46 million pounds of food to its network of partner nonprofits each year.

“Peanut butter is one of the hardest items to keep on our shelves because it’s protein-packed, kid-friendly, and in high demand from our partners,” said Jody Tick, chief operating officer at the food bank. “We’re thrilled for this donation, and 30,000 jars of peanut butter will go a long way towards helping children and families in our area get the food they need to live well”.

The donation was also made in celebration of National Peanut Month in March and National Ag Day. One serving of peanuts is a good source of protein, vitamin E, niacin, folate, phosphorus and magnesium. Peanuts are naturally cholesterol-free and low in saturated fat.

For additional details on the donation, visit the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation website at www.southernpeanutfarmers.org.

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Georgia peanut crop expected to top 700,000 acres this year

6Georgia’s peanut crop is expected to exceed 700,000 acres this year, which increases both hope for income improvement and fear of loss to disease, according to Scott Monfort, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension peanut agronomist.

“We typically grow in the neighborhood of 500,000 to 600,000 acres, and that’s where we need to be. But with the positive price the way it is, and overall marketplace, growers are trying to make a profit. That’s why we’re growing as many (acres) as we are,” said Monfort.

The increased acreage means that crop rotations are being shortened. Monfort estimates that about 20 percent of the peanuts will be produced under a shortened rotation, which is not good for sustainability. Peanuts have to be grown on a longer rotation – three to four years between peanut crops – to effectively minimize disease and insect pressure.

“Our rotations are already suffering from being shortened from what we recommend,” Monfort said. “This increases potential problems with disease and other issues. It’s going to negatively impact yields as we continue to grow this many acres.”

Another factor that peanut growers need to be mindful of is this year’s unseasonably warm winter. Monfort said diseases and nematodes are going to get an earlier start than normal.

Tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV) is another disease that peanut growers have been plagued by for several decades. The virus is the focus of much of UGA’s peanut research, which includes the development of the UGA Tomato Spotted Wilt Index for Peanuts. More information is available at tomatospottedwiltinfo.caes.uga.edu/peanut/risk.html.

Until a couple of years ago, TSWV was kept in check through efforts at breeding resistance into varieties, which has been ongoing since the early 2000s, and the development of the TSWV risk index. Now, TSWV has become a problem again.

“The virus is starting to creep back up,” Monfort said. “Over the last three years, it has gotten worse and worse, not at significant levels, but enough that we can tell the levels are starting to increase.”

Growers are encouraged to look over the TSWV risk index to find ways of preventing TSWV or reducing effects of an infection.

Monfort believes the costs of managing diseases and nematodes are going to be elevated this year. To avoid peanuts succumbing to these pests, growers are advised to avoid skipping any management steps.

“If you have a field that’s at a higher risk for disease, make sure to adjust your management situation for that,” Monfort said. “If you have a higher risk of insects or weeds, you have to adjust what you’re doing to effectively control them. We hope they (growers) don’t cut corners. We hope that they have somebody scouting, consulting or somebody to just walk the fields and keep a record of what’s happening in the fields.”

by Julia Rodriquez, intern for UGA Tifton Campus

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