Senators Isakson, Perdue Fight Harmful EPA Power Grab

WASHINGTON (Nov. 4, 2015) – U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and David Perdue, R-Ga., today voted to disapprove and overturn the President Obama’s onerous “Waters of the United States” regulation, calling the rule a massive federal land grab by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that will expose farmers, ranchers, home owners, and businesses to significant compliance costs and new fines.

The Senate passed the joint resolution of disapproval by a vote of 53-44. The resolution, which would prevent the implementation of the EPA’s water rule, will now head to the U.S. House of Representatives.

My Approved Portraits“The administration’s ‘Waters of the United States’ rule allows federal bureaucrats to assert control over thousands of streams, creeks, wetlands, ponds and ditches throughout the country,” said Senator Isakson. “This rule harms not only landowners, but our entire agriculture industry in Georgia. I applaud the Senate passage of Senator Ernst’s resolution.”

“Washington’s fourth branch of government, thMy Approved Portraitse regulators, originally put this rule in place with complete disregard for the negative impact it would have on Georgia farmers and landowners,” said Senator Perdue. “Thirty-one states have come together to stop this land grab and today we’re finally putting this harmful regulation back on President Obama’s desk for him to strongly reconsider.”

Senators Isakson and Perdue also cosponsored S.1140, the Federal Water Quality Protection Act, which would require a revision of the “Waters of the United States” rule to define clear limits and to take into account an economic analysis of the rule. Earlier this week, this legislation failed to get the 60 votes necessary to advance in the Senate due to opposition from Senate Democrats.

Action against the EPA’s rule has also been taken by the courts. Last month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled in favor of Georgia and 17 states in granting a nationwide stay of the Obama Administration’s “Waters of the United States” regulation. In addition, Attorney General Olens is also challenging the same regulation in a case brought in the U.S. District for the Southern District of Georgia that is now on appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.

On March 25, 2014, EPA and the Corps released their proposed rule redefining “Waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act. The term “Waters of the United States” is the Clean Water Act’s threshold provision that determines whether the law’s permitting and regulatory requirements apply to a particular body of water.

The proposed rule, which was finalized on September 17, 2015, will provide EPA and the Corps, as well as environmental groups, with a powerful tool to delay and prevent development and land use activities on property owned by homeowners, farms, small businesses and municipalities. Federal bureaucrats—and not state and local authorities—could assert control over thousands of rivers, streams, lakes and marshes throughout the country.

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Georgia Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall campaigning to be next AFBF President

Zippy Duvall Campaign PictureGeorgia Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall is traveling the country campaigning to become president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. A third-generation Georgia farmer and lifetime member of the Georgia Farm Bureau, Duvall is ready to lead the AFBF and is committed to leading it into the future while ensuring the organization stays true to its original purpose: to be the united voice of American farmers and ranchers.

“Agriculture is not only essential for life, it is essential for the security of our nation,” Duvall said. “I understand what it takes to keep Farm Bureau strong and extend our role as the respected, trusted voice for agriculture in America.”

During his nine years as Georgia Farm Bureau president, Duvall has led the state’s largest agriculture organization by building relationships with state and national legislators and building bridges with other state and national agriculture leaders to solve problems facing farmers, agriculture and consumers.  Duvall has been on international trade missions on behalf of Georgia Farm Bureau and American Farm Bureau.

“AFBF is a critical grassroots organization that provides an avenue for farmers and ranchers to engage in the important national conversations that effect our agricultural communities,” Duvall said. “From the time I first became involved in Farm Bureau as a young farmer, I learned that building relationships and bridges with others is key to getting your voice heard and making a difference. This is the core of who I am and is what I have done throughout my life both on my farm and in my public service.”

Duvall made a commitment to agriculture and public service early in his career. He has been involved in multiple county, state and national organizations as well as many agriculture groups. He lives on his farm in Greene County, Georgia, with his wife of 36 years, Bonnie. The Duvalls have four children and three grandchildren.

Duvall announced his candidacy in July after AFBF President Bob Stallman announced he would not seek another term after leading the organization for 16 years.  “I decided to run for the national office after being asked by several state Farm Bureau presidents and after much prayer with my family,” Duvall said.  “I love my job as Georgia Farm Bureau president and the thought of leaving it was the toughest part of this decision because it’s so rewarding to work with all of our county volunteers and to represent Georgia’s farmers, but I believe the diversity of Georgia’s agriculture has prepared me to represent all of America’s farmers.  The campaign responses traveling the country to state Farm Bureaus has truly been an encouraging journey for me.”

The AFBF presidential election, which is for a two-year term, will be held January 12,2016 at the annual AFBF convention in Orlando, Florida.  Each state is allotted voting delegates based on its number of Farm Bureau members. Additional delegates come from the AFBF Women’s Leadership and Young Farmers & Ranchers Committees and the sitting AFBF president for a total of 355 voting delegates. The next AFBF president will need the support of 179 voting delegates at the convention.

More information on Duvall’s campaign for AFBF President can be found at as well as connecting on social media via Facebook and Twitter.

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UGA climatologist cautions Georgia farmers about impending El Niño weather pattern

2015_gpt_117sAn impending El Niño weather pattern could negatively impact Georgia farmers’ abilities to harvest their peanut and cotton crops, according to University of Georgia climatologist Pam Knox.

“I think that, for the next three weeks or so, after the current wet spell, it’s going to be pretty dry, as we usually see in October. But once the El Niño pattern kicks in, it could get pretty wet quickly, which is going to be a problem if farmers don’t get the crops out in a timely way,” Knox said.

El Niño refers to unusually warm weather in the eastern Pacific Ocean, off the coasts of Peru and Ecuador, she said. When warm water exists there, the circulation in the atmosphere changes. The southeastern part of the United States gets caught under a subtropical jet stream, which pushes all of the storms and rain through the region.

“Once that pattern sets in, we can expect to see a lot of storms come through this winter. It should be wetter than usual, and it’s probably going to be cooler than usual, just because I think it’s going to be real cloudy from all the storms,” Knox said.

With a drastic increase in acreage this year, peanut farmers could feel the most impact from El Niño. Approximately 770,000 acres were planted in Georgia, according to UGA Cooperative Extension peanut agronomist Scott Monfort. An estimated 25 percent was planted after the third week of May, which puts harvest time in mid- to late October. If rain starts and continues, combined with limited sunshine, growers could have trouble getting their crops out of the field.

“We’re concerned as usual when it comes to weather, period. If we start getting rain, especially the first part of October, it can set up and cause some problems,” Monfort said.

Twenty-five percent of Georgia’s peanut crop amounts to more than 192,000 acres, a significant amount of potentially impacted production in south Georgia.

“If the rain sets in and it’s rainy for a couple of weeks, cloudy and we don’t see any sun, then that’s really going to do some damage to the crop, in the ground and out,” Monfort said.

Peanut growers already faced some challenges this growing season. With temperatures in the low 80s and limited sunshine this week, peanuts are maturing considerably slower than usual.

Further, white mold disease has been a problem and could continue if peanuts are left in the field, dug up and, in the rain, unable to be harvested. The more it rains, the more disease pressure peanuts will encounter.

Though peanut growers are encouraged to be diligent and to get their crops out in a timely fashion, they could encounter delays at local buying points. Because Georgia’s peanut acreage increased by almost 30 percent this year, that amounts to a an extra 200,000 acres that need to be harvested, which could create a logjam at area buying points.

“For the most part, the local buying points have been able to handle everything right now,” Monfort said. “They do try to be as quick as they can about drying, grading and getting those empty trailers back out. But, if you take a 30-percent increase in peanut acreage, you’re going to have a bottleneck, especially with the early to mid-May planted peanuts. That’s when the majority of them got planted.”

UGA Extension cotton agronomist Jared Whitaker said Georgia’s cotton crop will also be impacted by the cloudy, rainy days ahead.

“Boll opening and leaf drop function better in times of plentiful sunshine. With the cloudy days we’ve had and cloudy days we may have, defoliation and boll opening could slow down, and ultimately delay, harvest,” Whitaker said.

Cotton farmers begin to harvest their crop by first applying products that accelerate the crop’s maturity and open the bolls that contain the lint in the top of the canopy, he said. This process is called “defoliation.”

A delay in defoliation results in delays in harvest, and delays in harvest can significantly impact yield and fiber quality, Whitaker said.

Cotton quality is at its highest when the boll first opens.

“Each weather event or period of excessive moisture can impact the boll like any other kind of fruit we produce in Georgia” Whitaker said. “The kind of conditions associated with this potential weather event could cause us to lose yield and quality.”

This would hurt cotton farmers’ profits as cotton commodity prices this season make it “extremely important to maximize yields to remain profitable,” he said.

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

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Peanut tour showcases Georgia’s 2015 crop

2015_gpt_047sThe top peanut-producing state in the country showcased its 2015 crop during the annual Georgia Peanut Tour, which was held Sept. 15-17.

The University of Georgia, along with the Georgia Peanut Commission, coordinated the three-day tour, which allowed participants to visit southwest Georgia, home of some of the top peanut producers in the state. The tour, which included farmers, industry personnel and visitors from other countries, educated participants about all aspects of peanut production — from planting and harvesting to the manufacturing of the crop.

Tour attendees learned why peanuts are a high-value crop for Georgia farmers.

“The tour has been excellent. We got to visit a number of sites that showcased Georgia’s peanut production,” said Rajagopalbabu “Babu” Srinivasan, UGA entomologist and chairman of the peanut tour committee. “We got to see farming operations on a big scale, digging and picking. We had a good session at our research station in Attapulgus, Georgia, (Wednesday) that allowed us to highlight our research findings over the years.”

Srinivasan and fellow UGA team members, including plant pathologists, agronomists, entomologists and economists, provided insight as to why peanut production is a complex — but rewarding — process.

“Even though we have a number of people who participate in the peanut tour every year, we have several newcomers. What we wanted to do was show to them everything we could in a couple of days about peanut production. This being the time for harvest, we were able to show them how the peanuts are harvested and processed” Srinivasan said.

The tour included visits to multiple farming operations in Decatur, Grady, Miller and Seminole counties, including John Harrell’s peanut field in Grady County on Thursday.

“I’ve been on every Georgia Peanut Tour since 1999, and this is the first year I haven’t traveled all the way with the tour. This is a highlight of mine, to have the peanut tour on my farm north of Whigham, (Georgia),” Harrell said. “My irrigated peanuts look great. We went through tough times in August, so it’s going to affect these yields on my dryland peanuts.”

Srinivasan said Georgia was expected to grow almost 800,000 acres of peanuts this year. Such an increase was attributed to the poor commodity prices for corn and cotton. While peanut prices are not ideal, they do present better opportunities for profit, which is why achieving high yields is so important for farmers in southwest Georgia.

“Like I said the first day, we grow a lot of peanuts and we grow the world’s finest peanuts. This is the peanut capital of the world,” Srinivasan said. “There’s no other place that could top this, I would say.”

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

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UGA Extension peanut agronomist Scott Monfort optimistic about Georgia’s crop

2015_ugacotpnutfd_33sA week before Georgia’s annual Peanut Tour, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension peanut agronomist Scott Monfort is optimistic about the state’s peanut crop.

“I think the majority of the crop is above average. I think we’re going to yield very well in the irrigated crop, which is more than 50 percent of the crop, as well as areas that got rain,” Monfort said.

Monfort did add, however, that certain areas of the state have received little to no rainfall in the last two months. This lack of rain will impact the state’s overall yield.

“Four weeks ago, I said we had good potential to make 4,500 pounds based upon what we were seeing at that time. I think it’s going to be a couple of hundred pounds lower because of the fact that we haven’t received that much rain in the last several weeks,” Monfort said. “You go into certain parts of the state, and we’ve been pretty stressed. Some of those areas haven’t had any rain in six weeks.”

Georgia planted 780,000 acres of peanuts this year, almost 200,000 more than last year. One reason for the large increase in production is the low prices in other row crops, specifically cotton and corn. Farmers planted more peanuts than they would have normally in order to compensate for the low commodity prices.

However, not sticking with crop rotations has cost some Georgia farmers who have planted peanuts in the same fields for consecutive years. Doing so increases the opportunity for disease pressure to become problematic, which has been the case this year with white mold, a disease that’s been a nuisance for Georgia farmers this year and in the past.

“Where this is hitting us worse is where farmers are planting peanuts behind peanuts for multiple years, and they’re trying to reduce their fungicide applications,” Monfort said. “They either only put out so many applications or they put out the cheapest thing they could, thinking they could ease by this year. White mold is teaching us that it’s not going to work.”

Monfort said farmers have already begun digging their peanuts for harvest. Due to the large amount of acres and bulk that were planted after the middle of May, harvesting peanuts could last into mid-November, said Monfort.

Farmers and industry personnel will learn more about the crop from UGA Peanut Team members during the annual Georgia Peanut Tour, to be held Sept. 15-17 in southwest Georgia. The tour will be based out of Thomasville, Georgia, but will include stops in Grady and Decatur counties as well.

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USDA seeks nominees for Peanut Standards Board

WASHINGTON, July 9, 2015 — The U.S. Department of Agriculture is seeking nominations for peanut producers and industry representatives to serve on the Peanut Standards Board.

The board consists of 18 members with representation equally divided between peanut producers and industry representatives. Representation is divided among three regions: the Southeast (Alabama, Georgia and Florida); the Southwest (Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico) and Virginia/North Carolina. Each region has three producer seats and three industry representative seats with staggered three-year terms.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will appoint one producer and one industry representative from each region to succeed members whose terms expire on June 30, 2015. The six new members will serve terms ending on June 30, 2018.

The 2002 Farm Bill established the Peanut Standards Board to consult with USDA regarding quality and handling standards for domestically produced and imported peanuts. The board plays a key role in representing the U.S. peanut industry on issues affecting quality and marketability.

USDA encourages board membership that reflects the diversity of the industry it represents. All eligible women, minorities and persons with disabilities are invited to seek nomination for a seat on the Peanut Standards Board by the Aug. 24, 2015, deadline.

For nominating forms and additional information, visit:, or contact Jennie M. Varela, Marketing Specialist, or Christian D. Nissen, Regional Director, Southeast Marketing Field Office, Marketing Order and Agreement Division, Fruit and Vegetable Program, AMS, USDA; Telephone: (863) 324-3375, Fax: (863) 291-8614, or E-mail: or

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EPA proposes stronger standards for people applying the pesticides with the greatest risk

Image result for epaWashington (Aug. 5, 2015) - Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing stronger standards for pesticide applicators who apply “restricted-use” pesticides.  These pesticides are not available for purchase by the general public, require special handling, and may only be applied by a certified applicator or someone working under his or her direct supervision.

“We are committed to keeping our communities safe, protecting our environment and protecting workers and their families, said Jim Jones, EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “By improving training and certification, those who apply these restricted use pesticides will have better knowledge and ability to use these pesticides safely.”

The goal of today’s action is to reduce the likelihood of harm from the misapplication of toxic pesticides and ensure a consistent level of protection among states. Pesticide use would be safer with increased supervision and oversight.

EPA is proposing stricter standards for people certified to use restricted use pesticides and to require all people who apply restricted use pesticides to be at least 18 years old.  Certifications would have to be renewed every 3 years.

EPA is proposing additional specialized licensing for certain methods of application that can pose greater risks if not conducted properly, such as fumigation and aerial application.  For further protection, those working under the supervision of certified applicators would now need training on using pesticides safely and protecting their families from take-home pesticide exposure.

State agencies issue licenses to pesticide applicators who need to demonstrate under an EPA-approved program their ability to use these products safely. The proposed revisions would reduce the burden on applicators and pest control companies that work across state lines. The proposal promotes consistency across state programs by encouraging inter-state recognition of licenses.

The proposal also updates the requirements for States, Tribes, and Federal agencies that administer their own certification programs to incorporate the strengthened standards. Many states already have in place some or many of EPA’s proposed changes. The proposed changes would raise the bar nationally to a level that most states have already achieved.  The estimated benefits of $80.5 million would be due to fewer acute pesticide incidents to people.

EPA encourages public comment on the proposed improvements. The 90 day public comment period will begin when the proposal is published in the Federal Register.

A copy of the proposal and more information about certification for pesticide applicators:

To comment on the proposed changes, visit and search for docket number EPA-HQ-OPP-2011-0183 after publication in the federal register.

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July/August 2015 issue of the Southeastern Peanut Farmer

julyaug2015cvr_webThe July/August 2015 issue of the Southeastern Peanut Farmer is now available online.
Click here!

This issue features the:

  • 2015 Harvest Guidebook
  • Scouting peanut fields for pests
  • U.S. trade mission to China
  • USA Peanut Congress awards
  • Georgia Peanut Tour set for September
  • Brown to lead Peanut Foundation
  • Members named to Agricultural Trade Advisory Committees
  • Check off reports from the state grower organizations
  • Legislative Update
  • Southern Peanut Growers Update
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Morris and Koehler appointed to USDA committees on agricultural trade

IMG_8739TIFTON, Ga. (July 9, 2015) U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and United States Trade Representative Michael Froman recently announced the appointment of Brenda Morris, peanut farmer from Ocilla, Georgia, to the Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee (APAC) and Don Koehler, Georgia Peanut Commission executive director, to the Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee for Trade in Tobacco, Cotton and Peanuts (ATACs).

“The last six years have been the strongest in history for U.S. agricultural exports, with international sales of American farm and food exports totaling $771.7 billion,” says Sec. Vilsack. “Those exports now support more than a million quality American jobs. As we negotiate new trade agreements in Asia and Europe we will rely on APAC and ATAC members’ expertise and knowledge to bring home the best possible deals.”

Morris was reappointed to serve on the Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee until June 15, 2019. Morris has been farming with her husband, Armond, in Ocilla, Georgia, for 52 years. The farm totals 2,500 acres of peanuts, cotton, corn and small grains.

“I feel privileged as a farmer to be able to serve on APAC and provide advice regarding trade policy and the impact of trade negotiations,” Morris says. “Trade is important to farmers as we continue to seek additional export opportunities and develop policy and trade negotiations that will benefit the American farmer.”

Koehler’s reappointment to the Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee (ATAC) for Trade in Tobacco, Cotton and Peanuts is effective through June 15, 2019. The Tobacco, Cotton and Peanuts ATAC provides technical advice on U.S. agricultural trade issues to the Secretary of Agriculture and the United States Trade Representative (USTR).

“I am honored to represent the peanut farmers of Georgia on the ATAC Committee,” Koehler says. “We are making great strides in the export market for peanuts and we need to continue to focus our efforts on increasing trade as our productivity continues to advance.”

Congress established the advisory committee system in 1974 to ensure a private-sector voice in establishing U.S. agricultural trade policy objectives to reflect U.S. commercial and economic interests. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative jointly manage the committees.

The APAC provides advice and information to the Secretary of Agriculture and the U.S. Trade Representative on the administration of trade policy; including enforcement of existing trade agreements and negotiating objectives for new trade agreements. The ATACs offer technical advice and information about specific commodities and products.

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Farm Credit to Offer Free Financial Training for Local Farmers

AgGeorgia Farm Credit and AgSouth Farm Credit are pleased to announce that both Associations are offering AGAware® workshops this summer.  AGAware is a national award-winning program whose purpose is to promote and educate the next generation of farmers.  Young, beginning, small, and/or minority farmers are encouraged to sign up to attend this FREE training.

“The Farm Credit System has a mission to serve agriculture and rural America, and its been doing that for nearly a century,” said Van McCall, director of the AGAware program.  In support of that mission, AgSouth Farm Credit and AgGeorgia Farm Credit provide loans and supporting services to young, beginning, small, and minority farmers in our territory. Our hope is that our council along with the support of other key agricultural entities will help ensure that future farmers will be prepared and financially strong so they may continue doing what they love and providing something so vital to our survival.”

Topics of the workshop include: Balance Sheets, Income Statements, Family Finance & Family Budgeting, Risk Management, Accrual Income, Applying for Financing, Preparing a Business Plan, Technology & Record Keeping, Marketing Assistance Available through the Department of Agriculture, FSA/SBA, and other programs. Applications for scholarships for continuing education through Farm Credit University will be available to graduates of AGAware. AGAware is certified for FSA Direct Borrower training credit.

Seminars are scheduled from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the following locations, and a free lunch is provided. Space is limited. Sign up today:

Friday, July 17
UGA Tifton Conference Center
15 RDC Rd.
Tifton, Georgia
Register for this class

Friday, August 28
University of West Georgia
The Coliseum
1601 Maple St.
Carrollton, Georgia
Register for this class

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