UGA crop geneticists awarded $935,000 to breed softer cotton and more resilient peanuts

PeanutsOnPlantSMALLThe U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) awarded University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) plant breeders almost $1 million in grants this fiscal year to produce improved cotton and peanut varieties.

These plant breeders have been tapped to make Georgia’s most profitable row crops more sustainable and productive.

Searching for softer cotton

Regents’ Professor Andrew Paterson, director of the Plant Genome Mapping Laboratory and member of the CAES Department of Crop and Soil Sciences and the Franklin College departments of Plant Biology and Genetics, and Peng Chee, his fellow crop and soil sciences professor, are pinpointing cotton genes that affect the length of cotton fibers.

Longer fibers lead to softer cotton fabrics and a higher per-pound price for farmers.

Paterson and Chee will focus on upland cotton, which is a common name for the cotton species most widely grown in the U.S. Georgia farmers grew more than 1 million acres and $967 million worth of upland cotton in 2016.

Upland cotton typically produces cotton with short or medium fibers, and those fibers can be even shorter if the cotton plant is stressed. However, mutations of upland cotton created by the researchers produce longer fibers.

Supported by a $490,000 NIFA grant, Paterson and Chee will map genes connected to superior fiber qualities in this mutated upland cotton. Eventually, they will incorporate those genes into cotton varieties known for their hardiness, productivity and efficiency.

“The long-term goal of the proposed project is to enrich genetic diversity and accelerate the breeding progress in the elite gene pool of one the most economically important and genetically vulnerable major U.S. crops: cotton,” Paterson said.

For more information on Paterson and Chee’s proposal, visit tinyurl.com/uplandcotton.

Looking to the peanut’s roots

The average American eats about 6 pounds of peanuts a year. To meet that demand, farmers in Georgia grow more than 700,000 acres of the state’s signature legume.

For each of those acres, farmers invest between $500 and $770 into seeds, pesticides, irrigation and herbicides. Tapping into the resilience of the peanut’s wild ancestors should substantially bring down that per-acre price, said Soraya Leal-Bertioli, UGA senior research scientist.

Bertioli, who worked with the international team of scientists that traced the evolution of the modern peanut to its wild ancestors in the Andes Mountains in 2016, received a $445,000 grant from NIFA to find the genetic traits that protected ancient peanuts from fungal and insect problems as well as other diseases.

“In the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s, hundreds of wild peanut populations were collected from the wild and deposited in the USDA seed bank,” she said. “Several studies show that these species carry resistance to pests and diseases that affect the peanut crop.”

Most of these species have never been bred with modern varieties. By using modern techniques, Bertioli hopes to introduce these ancient, naturally-occurring resistance traits into modern lines of productive peanuts.

Breeding peanut varieties with the resistance of their wild relatives that can keep up with modern production levels will allow farmers to produce peanuts with fewer chemicals at a lower cost.

For more information on Bertioli’s proposal, visit tinyurl.com/sustainablepeanuts.

By Merritt Melancon

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Roberts, Stabenow Prepared for Farm Bill Conference

senate farm bill logoU.S. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., today released the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives voted to proceed to a Farm Bill conference.

“We are pleased to see the House move ahead on the Farm Bill,” said Chairman Roberts and Ranking Member Stabenow. “In order to be successful in passing a final bill, the conference committee must put politics aside and focus on the needs of our farmers, families, and rural communities. We are eager to go to conference, so we can move quickly to provide certainty for American farmers and families. Rural America is counting on us to get this right.”

On June 28, 2018, the U.S. Senate passed the 2018 Farm Bill on a strong bipartisan 86-11 vote – the most votes a Senate Farm Bill has ever received. The bipartisan 5-year legislation encompasses a broad array of agriculture, nutrition, conservation, and forestry policy. The Senate bill has the support of more than 500 groups representing thousands of agriculture, food, nutrition, hunger, forestry, conservation, rural, business, faith-based, research, and academic interests.

Click here to read the legislation, summaries, and amendments.

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House Moves to Send Farm Bill to Conference Committee, Appoints Conferees

house fb-quadToday, the House of Representatives moved to send the 2018 Farm Bill to conference committee. Following the vote, Speaker Paul Ryan (WI-1) named the House conferees, or members who will seek to resolve the differences between the two chambers’ bills. House Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway (TX-11) issued the following statement on the House’s action:

“Today, we move one step closer to delivering a strong, new farm bill to the president’s desk on time as he has called on Congress to do. America’s farmers and ranchers and rural America are struggling right now and they deserve the certainty of a strong farm bill to see them through to better times. The House has pulled together a solid team of conferees from across the country who are committed to working with our Senate colleagues to reach a final product that helps millions of low-income Americans climb the economic ladder while standing by the hard-working farm and ranch families who put food on our tables and clothes on our backs.”

HOUSE REPUBLICAN CONFEREES

House Agriculture Committee Conferees:
1. Chairman Mike Conaway (TX-11)
2. Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (PA-05)
3. Bob Goodlatte (VA-06)
4. Frank Lucas (OK-03)
5. Mike Rogers (AL-03)
6. Austin Scott (GA-08)
7. Rick Crawford (AR-01)
8. Vicky Hartzler (MO-04)
9. Rodney Davis (IL-13)
10. Ted Yoho (FL-03)
11. David Rouzer (NC-07)
12. Roger Marshall (KS-01)
13. Jodey Arrington (TX-19)

House Education and the Workforce Committee Conferees:
1. Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (NC)
2. Rick Allen (GA-12)

House Energy and Commerce Committee Conferees:
1. John Shimkus (IL-15)
2. Kevin Cramer (ND-AL)

House Financial Services Committee Conferees:
1. Chairman Jeb Hensarling (TX-05)
2. Sean Duffy (WI-07)

House Foreign Affairs Committee Conferees:
1. Chairman Ed Royce (CA-39)
2. Steve Chabot (OH-01)

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Conferees:
1. Mark Walker (NC-06)
2. James Comer (KY-01)

House Natural Resources Committee Conferees:
1. Chairman Rob Bishop (UT-01)
2. Bruce Westerman (AR-04)

House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Conferees:
1. Ralph Abraham (LA-05)
2. Neal Dunn (FL-02)

House Transportation and Infrastructure Conferees:
1. Jeff Denham (CA-10)
2. Bob Gibbs (OH-07)

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Roberts, Stabenow Announce Bipartisan Farm Bill Passes Senate on 86-11 Vote

senate farm bill logoOne large step closer to delivering on promised certainty, U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., today announce the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 passed the Senate on a strong bipartisan 86-11 vote.

“Today marks an important day for farm country. We are one step closer to providing farmers and ranchers a Farm Bill with the certainty and predictability they deserve,” said Chairman Roberts. “I thank my partner in this journey, Ranking Member Stabenow, as well as many of our Senate colleagues who offered leadership and expertise. I am proud we have a strong, budget neutral Farm Bill with broad support.”

“The 2018 Senate Farm Bill proves that bipartisanship is a tried and true approach to getting things done,” said Ranking Member Stabenow. “By working across the aisle, we crafted a Farm Bill that strengthens our diverse agricultural economy and all the jobs it supports in Michigan and across the county. I want to thank Chairman Roberts for his leadership and partnership, along with our Senate colleagues who contributed their ideas for improving American agriculture.”

The Senate Agriculture Committee favorably reported out the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, commonly referred to as the Farm Bill, on June 13, 2018. The bipartisan 5-year legislation encompasses a broad array of agriculture, nutrition, conservation, and forestry policy. Click here to watch the meeting. Click here to watch other Committee hearings in preparation for the 2018 Farm Bill. Click here to read the legislation, summaries, and amendments.

The legislation has the support of more than 500 groups representing thousands of agriculture, food, nutrition, hunger, forestry, conservation, rural, business, faith-based, research, and academic interests.

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KMC plans to build new repair parts warehouse

IMG_4620Kelley Manufacturing Co. recently held a groundbreaking ceremony for their new parts department building on June 21, 2018, in Tifton, Georgia. The new 40,800 square foot warehouse is estimated to cost $2.2 million and provide thirty plus construction jobs. The new building will employ 6 to 7 fulltime warehouse employees and 7 field service employees.

“The company is 100 percent employee owned. There are 200 plus jobs here but they are not just normal jobs,” says Bennie Branch, KMC president. “The employees have a stake in the company as well. It is a source of pride for me as well.”

KMC is expanding the parts department to meet the increased volume of parts for the 73 different implements produced. KMC has been making farm equipment for the   farmers of the world since 1966 and their peanut harvest  equipment is available in 22 countries around the world.

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House Passes 2018 Farm Bill: Critical Legislation to Aid Farmers and Ranchers, Offer Opportunities to SNAP Recipients

house fb-quadToday the House passed the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 (H.R. 2), critical legislation to address the economic challenges facing the nation’s farmers and ranchers, while making significant investments in opportunities for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients. Upon passage, House Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway (TX-11) issued the following remarks:

“Today’s vote was about keeping faith with the men and women of rural America and about the enduring promise of the dignity of a day’s work. It was about providing certainty to farmers and ranchers who have been struggling under the weight of a five-year recession and about providing our neighbors in need with more than just a hand out, but a hand up. I’m proud of what this body has accomplished, and now look forward to working with the Senate and the president to deliver a farm bill on time to the American people.”

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Change in the National Peanut Board Assessment Rate Published by USDA-AMS

NPB-PrimaryLogoA change in the regulation for the National Peanut Board assessment rate computation was published in the Federal Register June 14, 2018. The effective date for the new assessment rate is July 16, 2018, and will be applicable to the 2018 crop year.

The new rule changes the basis for assessment from value to volume (per ton). The new computation will be flat rates of $3.55 per ton for Segregation 1 farmers stock peanuts and $1.25 per ton for Segregation 2 and 3 farmers stock peanuts.

This action was unanimously recommended by the National Peanut Board in 2017 and will help facilitate   program operations by providing a more predictable revenue stream for the board to carry out its mission. NPB’s mission is to improve the economic condition of U.S. peanut farmers and their families through compelling promotions and groundbreaking research.

This rule also updates the definition of “fiscal year” from the 12-month period beginning Aug. 1 of any year and ending July 31 of the following year to the 12-month period beginning Nov. 1 of any year and ending Oct. 31 of the following year. This proposed change reflects current industry practices.

Regarding the economic impact of changing the basis of assessment from value to volume per ton, the new assessment rates are comparable to the rates that have been in effect since the board’s inception. The assessment costs  to producers are offset by the benefits derived from the operation of the program.

The National Peanut Board ’s programs have been successful in helping build demand and improving producer returns, according to a 2014 economic study showing an increase in demand by 15 percent from 2007-2013, as well as a return-on-investment of $8.87 for each dollar invested by producers in the Board’s activities.

For further information contact: Jeanette Palmer, marketing specialist, Promotion and Economics Division, Specialty Crops Program, AMS, USDA, at 202-720-9915 or via email at Jeanette.Palmer@ams.usda.gov.

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Senate Agriculture Committee Passes Bipartisan Farm Bill

senate farm bill logoDelivering on a promise, U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., today are pleased to announce the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 was favorably reported out of the Committee with bipartisan support. Click here to watch the meeting.

Commonly referred to as the Farm Bill, the bipartisan 5-year legislation encompasses a broad array of agriculture, nutrition, conservation, and forestry policy.

“The Senate Agriculture Committee’s bipartisan Farm Bill process is a reminder of how things should work in Washington – listening to the folks back home, working through issues with the other side of the aisle, then writing a good bill,” said Chairman Roberts and Ranking Member Stabenow. “Today marks another important step in the road to getting an on-time Farm Bill enacted into law. We urge our colleagues to support this bill.”

Click here to read the legislation, summaries, and amendments.

The legislation has the support of more than 115 agriculture, nutrition, conservation, and forestry groups.

Click here to watch the Committee’s hearings in preparation for the 2018 Farm Bill.

The legislation now heads to the full U.S. Senate for consideration.

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Senate Agriculture Committee Leaders Find Common Ground in Bipartisan Farm Bill

senate farm bill logoU.S. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., today released the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018. The Committee will meet to consider the legislation at 9:30 a.m. Eastern time on June 13. Click here to watch live.

“When Ranking Member Stabenow and I started this journey in Manhattan, Kansas, last year, we made a commitment to make tough choices and produce a good, bipartisan Farm Bill,” said Chairman Roberts. “I’m pleased that today marks a big step in the process to get a Farm Bill reauthorized on time.”

“Whether it’s low prices, over burdensome regulations, or unpredictable trade markets, it’s no secret that farmers and ranchers are struggling. That’s why we need a Farm Bill that works for all producers across all regions. Simply put, our producers need predictability – and that’s just what our bill provides.”

“From day one, Chairman Roberts and I agreed we would craft a bipartisan bill that works for farmers, families, and rural communities,” said Ranking Member Stabenow. “The 2018 bipartisan Senate Farm Bill goes above and beyond to provide certainty for rural America and our diverse agricultural economy in Michigan and throughout the country.”

“From revitalizing small towns, to promoting good stewardship of our land and water, to expanding local food economies, this Farm Bill is a major bipartisan victory.”

The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 provides certainty and predictability for producers across all regions, as well as those in need of assistance, by:

Providing Certainty for Farmers, Ranchers, and Growers

  • Preserving and strengthening crop insurance and other risk management tools for commodity, dairy, livestock, and other producers
  • Providing flexibility for producers during times of natural disasters
  • Continuing and strengthening export and trade-related programs
  • Supporting agriculture research and encouraging research partnerships that make farmers more productive and profitable

Strengthening Integrity and Food Access for Families

  • Strengthening the integrity of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Building on successful public-private partnerships and job training to improve SNAP participants’ path to sustainable employment
  • Protecting food assistance for families and expanding access to healthy foods
  • Reducing burdensome paperwork for seniors in need of assistance

Strengthening Voluntary Conservation and Forest Management

  • Investing in voluntary conservation on working lands and expanding regional partnerships that leverage private funds to address natural resource concerns and improve water quality
  • Providing forest management reforms to federal land managers and protecting against wildfires
  • Securing opportunities for outdoor recreation by adding 1 million new acres to the Conservation Reserve Program and strengthening voluntary public access

Investing in Rural America

  • Connecting rural America by expanding high-speed internet
  • Fighting the opioid epidemic with prevention and treatment efforts
  • Investing in water infrastructure for rural communities
  • Preserving renewable energy investments that lower utility bills and support energy installation jobs

Growing the Diversity of the American Agricultural Economy

  • Supporting farmer veterans and new farmers beginning careers in agriculture
  • Strengthening local food economies that enable farmers to sell their products to their neighbors
  • Growing emerging opportunities in organic production and urban agriculture
  • Bolstering biodefense preparedness efforts to protect United States agriculture and food.

Click here to read the legislation and a section-by-section summary.

Click here to watch the Committee’s hearings in preparation for the Farm Bill.

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May/June 2018 Southeastern Peanut Farmer

The May/June 2018 issue of the Southeastern Peanut Farmer is now available online.
Click here!

mayjune2018sepfcoverThis issue features:

  • Reaching consumers through influencers
  • Irrigation Guidebook
  • Growing the export market
  • Take another look at PGR for runners
  • Check off reports from the state grower organizations
  • Legislative Update
  • Southern Peanut Growers Update
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