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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Last Chance for 2017 Census U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is wrapping up data collection for the 2017 Census of Agriculture. To stay on track for data release in February 2019, the deadline for submitting the paper questionnaire is June 15, 2018. Farmers and ranchers who have not responded by June 15, 2018 still have until the end of July to complete the Census online through the secure website found on the cover of their Census form. Phone follow-up and personal interviews will also continue through July.

“The Census of Agriculture provides the only source of comprehensive agricultural data for every state and county in the nation,” said USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue. “These data are used to make important local, state, and national decisions that will have a very real impact on farmers, ranchers, ag operations, and rural communities. I encourage producers to respond online or to send in their paper form today.”

The questionnaire needs to be completed by everyone who received a form – including landowners who lease land to producers, those involved in conservation programs, even those who may have received the Census and do not farm. Every response matters.

“Our mission at NASS is to provide data in service to U.S. agriculture,” said NASS Administrator Hubert Hamer. “We extended the original Census deadline because many producers weren’t counted – and if they aren’t represented in these critical data, they risk being underserved in farm programs, disaster assistance, agricultural research, education, local policies, and business; it is imperative that we hear from everyone.”

Federal law, Title 7 USC 2204(g) Public Law 105-113, requires NASS to keep all information confidential, to use the data only for statistical purposes, and to only publish in aggregate form to prevent disclosing the identity of any individual producer or farm operation.

For more information about the 2017 Census of Agriculture or to respond online, visit Improved in 2017, the online form is faster and more convenient than ever. For questions about or assistance with filling out the Census, call toll-free (888) 424-7828.

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Sunbelt Ag Expo Field Day set for July 24

Peanut teamMajor advancements have been made in peanut yields over the last decade, but growers must continue to seek ways to more economically and efficiently increase yields in order to remain competitive. To help with that goal, the University of Georgia Peanut Team conducts many research trials across the state’s peanut belt, including work on real farms, university research farms, and at the Sunbelt Ag Expo Darrell Williams Research Farm at Moultrie, Georgia.

Farmers can learn more by visiting the Sunbelt Ag Expo for its annual Field Day on July 24 for a sneak peek at the research it is carrying out on behalf of University of Georgia researchers and others across the Southeast.

At the Expo farm, the UGA Peanut Team generally has trials to determine yield response and economic return for select tillage treatments, biological    inoculant products, foliar fertilizers and plant growth stimulants, says Scott Monfort, UGA Extension peanut      agronomist. More specifically, he conducted trials last season at the Expo to compare reduced tillage treatments, using single shank and twin shank rippers, to more common conventional tillage treatments, such as deep turning and harrowing. He used no cover crops in the trials.

“Yield in conventional tillage tended to be higher in most of the trials conducted in 2017,” he says. “However, yields in the Expo tillage trial were found to be similar across all tillage treatments.”

Additional research by Monfort at Sunbelt Expo “will assess the impact of cover crops in reduced tillage systems compared to conventional tillage. Treatments being assessed are intensive broadcast tillage (bottom plow), and two reduced tillage programs consisting of a single ripper shank, with and without a cover crop.”

“The Sunbelt Expo’s Darrell Williams Research Farm and research field day provides a great platform to showcase the research efforts of the UGA Peanut Team in answering grower concerns questions related to new products and changes in Extension       recommendations,” Monfort says.

The field day kicks off at 7:15 a.m. in the RW Griffin Building with a biscuit breakfast. Trams depart for the fields at 8:00 a.m. and return before noon for lunch and door prize drawings.

The Sunbelt Ag Expo is located southeast of Moultrie, Georgia, on Georgia Highway 133. For additional information, visit

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FSA County Committee Nominations Launch June 15

USDAThe U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) encourages America’s farmers and ranchers to nominate candidates to lead, serve and represent their community on their local county committee. USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will accept nominations for county committee members beginning Friday, June 15, 2018.

Producers across the country are already serving on committees where they play a critical role in the day-to-day operations of FSA, making important decisions on programs dealing with disaster and conservation, emergencies, commodity price loan support, county office employment and other agricultural issues.

“Our county committees make decisions about how federal farm programs are administered locally to best serve the needs of agriculture in their community,” said Acting FSA Administrator Steve Peterson. “We strongly encourage all eligible producers to visit their local FSA office today to find out how to get involved in their county’s election. There’s an increasing need for representation from underserved producers, which includes beginning, women and other minority farmers and ranchers.”

Nationwide, more than 7,700 dedicated farmers and ranchers serve on FSA county committees, which consist of three to 11 members and meet once a month, or as needed. Members serve three-year terms.

Producers can nominate themselves or others. Check your local USDA service center to see if your local administrative area is up for election this year.  Organizations, including those representing beginning, women and minority producers, may also nominate candidates to better serve their communities. To be eligible to serve on an FSA county committee, producers must participate or cooperate in an FSA program and reside in the area where the election is being held.

To be considered, a producer must sign an FSA-669A nomination form. The form and other information about FSA county committee elections are available at All nomination forms for the 2018 election must be postmarked or received in the local FSA office by Aug. 1, 2018. Visit for more information.

Election ballots will be mailed to eligible voters beginning Nov. 5, 2018. Read more to learn about important election dates.

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UGA Extension to host insect scouting schools in June


UGA Extension peanut entomologist Mark Abney does a demonstration on insect scouting.

Two insect scouting schools, hosted by University of Georgia Cooperative Extension in June, will introduce new scouts to insect monitoring and serve as a review for experienced scouts and farmers.

One of the scouting schools will be held on Monday, June 11, at the UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center. The second school will be held on Tuesday, June 19, at the Southeast Georgia Research and Education Center in Midville, Georgia. Both events will run from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

This year’s scouting schools will cover insect pests in row crops like cotton, peanuts and soybeans. Attendees will learn identifying information about pests and the damage they inflict on crops, natural enemies, different scouting procedures, and safety in the field. The schools will conclude with an in-field review.

“Scouting remains our best defense against insect pests. If our growers can recognize certain insects and the damage they cause, they’ll be better prepared to make the appropriate treatments before it’s too late,” said Phillip Roberts, UGA Extension entomologist. “Scouting schools serve as great sources of this type of information for our growers.”

The event is free. For more information about the scouting school in Tifton, contact Debbie Rutland at 229-386-3424. For more information about the scouting school in Midville, contact Peyton Sapp at 706-554-2119.

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Soil temperature is key to planting peanuts

peanutseedlingNow is the peak time to plant peanuts in Georgia, according to Cristiane Pilon, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension peanut physiologist.

During a research trial on the UGA Tifton campus in 2017, Pilon planted peanuts at three different times: mid-April, mid-May and early June. She discovered that the seedling vigor in the peanuts planted in May was the strongest.

“By choosing these dates, we were able to see how the soil temperature affected the early-season physiology of the most-planted cultivars, such as Georgia-06G,” said Pilon, who plans to conduct the research trial again this year and in 2019.

Seed vigor is the ability of the cultivar to rapidly develop its first true leaves and root system under suboptimal environmental conditions.

According to Pilon, soil temperature is the pivotal factor in deciding when to plant peanuts.

If peanuts are planted too early, the seedling emergence and vigor tend to be lower due to cooler temperatures in April, which may impair yields. If peanuts are planted too late, growers may see early seedling emergence due to higher temperatures in early to-mid June, but lower yields have been observed.

“The temperature must be higher than 68 degrees Fahrenheit over a three-day period,” Pilon said. “To start germination, peanut seeds need good soil temperatures, water and oxygen. If there are no potentially adverse weather conditions, then farmers are good to plant.

“You have to make sure your plants are healthy and vigorous throughout the process for a successful production. The faster the plant grows, the more vigorous it is,” she said.

Pilon wants to understand the relationship between time to emergence and other physiological processes for peanuts. She hopes her research will help farmers make more precise planting decisions.

“I read research on other row crops, and the development of first leaves is so important because that’s when the plant becomes photosynthetically active, greatly contributing to growth,” Pilon said. “We conduct research to identify the underlying physiological mechanisms promoting seedling vigor in order to help farmers make viable planting decisions. By planting in May, or when the weather conditions are just right, they will have a better product.”

For more information regarding peanut research, visit

By Julie Jernigan, University of Georgia

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Premium Peanut Expands to Include Oil Mill


Premium Peanut representatives cut the ribbon during the open house for hte new oil mill in Douglas, Ga., on April 30, 2018.

Premium Peanut in Douglas, Georgia, hosted an open house for their new peanut oil mill on April 30, 2018. The facility is located adjacent to the already up and running shelling plant. This new operation has the capacity to produce more than 3 million gallons of peanut oil per year. The event brought in more than 250 guests from the local  community, state and Southeast.

“We are proud of what we’ve been able to do,” says Karl Zimmer, president and CEO of Premium Peanut.

He went on to express his thanks and gratitude to the growers and shareholders stating how Premium Peanut would not have been able to do it without them.
“We are committed to them every day,” Zimmer says. “To create more value for the product that their harvesting.”

Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development Pat Wilson and Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Agriculture Gary Black along with U.S. Rep. Rick Allen, R-Georgia, also spoke during the open house where they each recognized the importance of agriculture to the state and country.

“This is an exciting event in the history of our young company,” says Lee Taylor, vice president of Premium Peanut. “We are working through the normal startup processes and will ramp up production at a steady pace.”

After the ribbon cutting ceremony, open house attendees were able to tour the shelling plant and oil mill. The oil mill is able to process 12,000 gallons of oil a day on three presses. The new oil mill started up on March 1, 2018, right as Premium Peanut planned and has already started shipping oil to their buyers.

By Whitney Brannen

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Proper peanut rotations can have positive impact on yields

2013_06_27_rdawsonlp_28sFarmers may have more success growing peanuts if they don’t continuously plant peanuts in the same field, according to Scott Tubbs, University of Georgia Tifton campus’s research cropping system agronomist for peanuts.

Tubbs has studied the impact of peanut rotation since 2008. Instead of growing peanuts in a field for consecutive years, called “continuous peanut rotation,” he believes that Georgia growers should plant a rotation of crops in each field, allowing time to avoid the buildup of diseases, nematodes and other pest problems.

In research conducted at UGA-Tifton, Tubbs recorded a decrease in yields by as much as 2,000 pounds per acre during continuous peanut rotation. In this specific trial, the decline in yields was caused by the buildup of root-knot nematodes.

The peanut root-knot nematode affects the roots of peanut plants, where the nematodes lay eggs. This causes the plant to swell and results in yield loss. If peanuts are rotated with another row crop like cotton or corn, instances of root-knot nematode decline and peanut yields increase. The longer the crop rotations are sustained, the more effective the peanut crop will be.

“Our numbers for peanut root-knot nematode decreased when going from a one-year (or continuous) rotation to a two-year rotation, where we put one crop in between peanut crops,” Tubbs said. “We reduced the number of peanut root-knot nematodes by half. If you take it out to a three-year rotation, where you grow two crops in between peanut crops, we actually reduced peanut root-knot nematodes by 90 percent.”

A four-year rotation by Tubbs, where three crops were planted between peanuts crops and peanuts were grown once every four years, reduced peanut root-knot nematodes by 97 to 99 percent.

“Rotating other crops with peanuts prevents peanut root-knot nematodes simply because it alternates the host,” Tubbs said.

Georgia peanut farmers are planning their 2018 crop now. The planting window ranges from late April to late May.

There have been extreme fluctuations in peanut acreage in recent years, from a 90-year low of 430,000 acres in 2013 to last year’s 840,000 acres, a 25-year high, according to the “UGA Peanut Production Quick Reference Guide.”

“Acreage has been more consistent in the last three years, but consistently high,” Tubbs said. “This has put a strain on maintaining recommended crop rotations for peanuts.”

For more information on crop rotation, visit the UGA Extension publications website at

By Julie Jernigan, University of Georgia

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