Made in Rural America Workshop strives to help exports

MIRA Invitation - Valdosta hdrWASHINGTON, July 14, 2016—The White House Rural Council (WHRC), today announced a workshop series to provide targeted assistance for rural small businesses working to grow demand through international sales. The announcement was made by WHRC Chair Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and Deputy Postmaster General Ronald A. Stroman.

The free series includes at least 60 Made in Rural America small business export workshops hosted by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) in 24 states July 26 to Aug. 31, 2016. One workshop will be held in Valdosta, Georgia on Aug. 23, 2016 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Click here to view the agenda and register online. Partners including the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration, USDA Rural Business Service, the Appalachian Regional Commission, Delta Regional Authority, National Association of Counties and others will also provide local and regional expertise in international shipping and mailing, international marketing assistance, rural business development and related topics.

To find a Made in Rural American workshop in your area visit and click your state. The site will be updated as details for each workshop becomes available and additional workshops are added. Online tools designed for rural businesses interested in international exports include and

Census data from 2009 to 2014 (latest available) shows that the ranks of U.S. goods exporters rose from 277,000 to 304,000—and 98 percent of those companies were small and medium-sized firms. U.S. exports reached $2.26 trillion in 2015, up by $678 billion from 2009, and supported 1.9 million more jobs during the period.

U.S. agricultural exports alone supported more than 1 million American jobs both on and off the farm, a substantial part of the estimated 11.5 million jobs supported by exports all across our country. The past seven years have represented the strongest period in history for American agricultural exports, with international sales of U.S. farm and food products totaling $911.4 billion between fiscal years 2009 and 2015. In fiscal year 2015, American farmers and ranchers exported $139.7 billion of food and agricultural goods to consumers worldwide.

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July/August issue of the Southeastern Peanut Farmer

julyaug_2016cvrThe July/August 2016 issue of the Southeastern Peanut Farmer is now available online.
Click here!

This issue features:

  • 2016 Harvest Guidebook
  • Using Social Media for Agvocacy
  • Georgia Peanut Tour set for Sept. 13-15, 2016
  • Check off reports from the state grower organizations
  • Legislative Update
  • Southern Peanut Growers Update
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Applications are now being accepted for Peanut Leadership Academy Class X

2009leaderlogoApplications are now being accepted for Class X of the Peanut Leadership Academy. To be eligible for participation, candidates must derive their primary livelihood from farming and currently produce peanuts, make a commitment to the program and agree to attend all sessions except in times of illness or a family emergency, be between the ages of 30 and 45 (preferred, but not required) and provide a completed application.

The Peanut Leadership Academy is a cooperative effort between Syngenta Crop Protection, the American Peanut Shellers Association and grower organizations. The program began in 1998 with the first class of 14 peanut growers from Alabama, Florida and Georgia. Since then, the academy has continued to grow to include growers from Texas, Mississippi , North Carolina, Virginia and sheller representatives.

During the program, participants are taught how to become more effective spokespeople for the peanut industry, develop industry relationships and further grow their leadership skills. Five sessions take place throughout the 18 month class and require approximately 20 days of travel. During these sessions, activities are structured to give participants a thorough understanding of the U.S. peanut industry and include field trips, meetings with industry leaders and professional development training. Each class also has one leadership session in Washington, D.C. where class members have an opportunity to visit with their congressmen about issues affecting the peanut industry.

To download a copy of the upcoming class application, click here. Applications must be postmarked by Sept. 1, 2016, for consideration. The first session will begin in December 2016.

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New online book provides best practices for feral swine management

p2659_0-1Every year, Alabama farmers suffer $50 million to $100 million in crop losses due to feral swine damage.

A new publication from Mississippi State University Extension Service and Alabama Cooperative Extension System aims to arm farmers in the fight against feral swine damage to lower annual crop losses. The book includes a brief history of feral swine in the U.S. and detailed information on trapping and management.

“Feral swine are a nuisance to farmers, and they carry diseases that pose a threat to humans and other animals,” said William Green, commodity director for the Alabama Farmers Federation. “This book provides practical information farmers can use to hopefully stop the spread of feral hog populations and keep them off their farms.”

Wild pigs can adapt to different climates, which has allowed them to move from mostly southeastern states in 1988 to northern states, including Wisconsin, Michigan and New Hampshire, by 2013. They reproduce at a fast rate and have very few natural predators.

Click here to view the online version of the book, “A Landowner’s Guide for Wild Pig Management: Practical Methods for Wild Pig Control.”

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May/June 2016 issue of the Southeastern Peanut Farmer

The May/June 2016 issue of the Southeastern Peanut Farmer is now available online.
Click here!

mayjune_2016web-1cvrThis issue features the:

  • 2016 Irrigation Guidebook
  • Growers invest in shelling plants
  • Peanut industry hosts educational tour for congressional staff
  • Southern Peanut Growers Conference set for          July 21-23, 2016
  • Check off reports from the state grower organizations
  • Legislative Update
  • Southern Peanut Growers Update
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USDA extends deadline for recording farm structure

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced a one-time, 30-day extension to the June 1 deadline for recording farm organization structures related to Actively Engaged in Farming determinations. This date is used to determine the level of interest an individual holds in a legal entity for the applicable program year. Farming operations will now have until July 1 to complete their restructuring or finalize any operational change. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued the extension in response to farmers and ranchers who requested more time to comply, and to assure that everyone has enough time to provide their information under the new rules.

The Georgia Peanut Commission and the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation, earlier, joined other agricultural organizations requesting that the Secretary extend the June 1, 2016 deadline requiring growers to file any status changes within a farm structure. The GPC and SPFF are very pleased that the Secretary has extended the deadline. Growers are encouraged to review their farm structures and contact USDA with any changes prior to the new deadline.

“Most farming and ranching organizations have been able to comply with the actively engaged rule,” said Vilsack. “This one-time extension should give producers who may still need to update their farm structure information the additional time to do so.”

The 2014 Farm Bill provided the Secretary with the direction and authority to amend the Actively Engaged in Farming rules related to management. The final rule established limits on the number of individuals who can qualify as actively engaged using only management. Only one payment limit for management is allowed under the rule, with the ability to request up to two additional qualifying managers operations for large and complex operations.

The rule does not apply to farming operations comprised entirely of family members. The rule also does not change the existing regulations related to contributions of land, capital, equipment or labor, or the existing regulations related to landowners with a risk in the crop or to spouses. Producers that planted fall crops have until the 2017 crop year to comply with the new rules. The payment limit associated with Farm Service Agency farm payments is generally limited annually to $125,000 per individual or entity.

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Insect Scout School set for June 13 and 21

2015_midvillefd_13sGeorgia farmers and agriculture consultants hoping to refine their scouting skills are invited to this year’s Insect Scout Schools, hosted by University of Georgia Cooperative Extension.

The schools will be held in Tifton, Georgia, at the UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center on Monday, June 13, and in Midville, Georgia, at the Southeast Georgia Research and Education Center on Tuesday, June 21. The trainings in both locations will begin at 9 a.m. and end at 12:30 p.m.

Program topics will cover scouting for bug and larval insect pests, identifying beneficial insects, and conducting in-field reviews. Participants will also learn about safety precautions and procedures. Crops that will be covered include cotton, peanuts and soybeans.

According to Phillip Roberts, Extension cotton and soybeans entomologist on the UGA Tifton Campus, the scout schools are beneficial to new insect scouts being introduced to insect monitoring. They’re also helpful for veteran insect scouts because the sessions serve as a review.

“These scout schools are very beneficial to farmers who want to learn more about insect pests and the problems they can pose to their respective crops,” said Roberts. “Not all insects are bad, and just because you see a pest doesn’t necessarily mean you have a problem that warrants chemical treatments. That’s why these schools are so important – they cover a wide range of information that’s beneficial to growers’ crops.”

For additional information about the programs, contact Debbie Rutland about the event in Tifton at 229-386-3424 or Peyton Sapp about the event in Midville at 706-554-2119.

(Kenzie Kesselring is an intern on the UGA Tifton Campus.)

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UGA CAES Dean Sam Pardue visits with agriculture industry personnel during tour of south Georgia

2016_premiumpnut&uga_02s 2016_premiumpnut&uga_33s 2016_premiumpnut&uga_44sWeeks of visits and tours across Georgia has University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Dean and Director Sam Pardue excited about the college improving upon the state’s No. 1 industry — agriculture.

Most recently, Pardue trekked across the state on Wednesday, April 20, with UGA Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Pamela Whitten. The daylong tour stopped in the Georgia cities of Jesup, Screven, Douglas, Doerun and Albany, providing Pardue with an opportunity to meet leaders in the agricultural industry.

“I’m fortunate enough to serve on the CAES Dean’s Advisory Council, so I’ve had the opportunity to interact, from time to time, with Dean Pardue already. I think it’s great that he’s participating in a tour like this, meeting producers in these communities face to face at the onset of his career at the University of Georgia,” said Steven Meeks, who farms tobacco, cotton and peanuts in Wayne County, and helped greet Pardue and Whitten in Jesup on Wednesday morning.

Pardue visited with scientists on the UGA Tifton Campus a week ago and learned about various agricultural topics dealing with animal and dairy science, irrigation and vegetable commodities. Wednesday’s tour allowed Pardue a chance to meet farmers, visit with industry personnel and discuss ways in which CAES can continue to meet the needs of the state’s constituents.

“Tours like today’s give me an opportunity to meet the people who are on the ground, who are the beneficiaries of the research and UGA Cooperative Extension programs that we provide,” Pardue said. “I always say that some of our best products are the young men and women who come through our academic programs, who go out to work for companies and individual enterprises. These visits help me to connect with those folks. It helps to build relationships so that people have the freedom to pick up the phone and say, ‘Hey, here’s a need that’s not being addressed.’’’

Wednesday’s tour culminated in visits to the Premium Peanut plant in Douglas and the Mobley Gin Co. in Doerun. The stops highlighted two commodities that dominate Georgia’s agricultural landscape. Doerun is located in Colquitt County, the state’s fourth-leading cotton-producing county in 2014, according to the 2014 Georgia Farm Gate Value Report, published by the UGA Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development (CAED). Colquitt County netted more than $41.6 million in farm gate value for cotton.

Douglas is located in Coffee County, one of the state’s top peanut-producing counties. Coffee County recorded more than $15.2 million in farm gate value in 2014 for peanuts, according to the CAED.

However, Georgia producers who farm these crops have endured difficult economic times in recent years due to low market prices, especially in cotton. Prices for cotton dropped as low as 57 cents per pound this year, compared to four years ago when it was selling for more than $1 per pound, according to the Georgia Cotton Commission. Pardue heeded the concerns and understands the role that CAES plays in overcoming these challenges.

“We’ll never be able to precisely predict or control the markets, but having expertise in agricultural economics allows us to be better positioned to forecast where the markets are headed and to assist our producers. Hopefully, these forecasts can give the producer an opportunity to adjust their product selection going forward, based upon where we think the market is moving,” Pardue said.

Not only do cotton and peanuts play a leading role in the state’s economy, but so, too, do poultry, peaches, pines and pecans. Georgia has also emerged as the country’s leading producer of blueberries.

Whitten, who also visited with UGA Extension personnel in March in Tifton, Georgia, emphasized that the university has a $4.4 billion annual economic impact on the state and is working to make that figure even higher.

“UGA has a long and proud history of advancing agriculture in Georgia, and Dean Pardue and I have crisscrossed the state to help make sure that our teaching, research and outreach support the needs of Georgia’s largest industry for years to come,” Whitten said.

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

View photos from tour of Premium Peanut in Douglas, Georgia.

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April 2016 issue of the Southeastern Peanut Farmer

The April 2016 issue of the Southeastern Peanut Farmer is now available online.
Click here!

april2016sepf_coverThis issue features the:

  • 2016 Disease Guidebook
  • 2016 Insect Guidebook
  • Peanut Leadership Academy travels to Washington, D.C.
  • Check off reports from the state grower organizations
  • Legislative Update
  • Southern Peanut Growers Update
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USDA Seeks Nominees for Peanut Standards Board

USDAThe U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) 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 3-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, 2016.  The six new members will serve terms ending on June 30, 2019.

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 May 2, 2016, deadline.

For nominating forms and additional board information, visit:, or contact Steven W. Kauffman, Marketing Specialist, or Christian D. Nissen, Regional Director, Southeast Marketing Field Office, Marketing Order and Agreement Division, Specialty Crops Program, AMS, USDA; Telephone: (863) 837-1551, Fax: (863) 291-8614, or E-mail: or

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