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USA - Peanut growers consider 2019 crop outlook after hurricane losses

As area farmers make plans to attend the annual Alabama-Florida Peanut Trade Show on Thursday, losses from last season are fresh on their minds.

Ken Barton, executive director of the Florida Peanut Producers Association, said farmers are in recovery mode from the damage caused by Hurricane Michael and a tremendous amount of rain.

Damage categories in the more than $300 million in total agricultural losses caused by Michael in southeast Alabama included corn, cotton, farm infrastructure, horticulture, irrigation infrastructure, livestock, peanut, pecan, pine straw, poultry, soybean and timber.

Some field work has already begun as farmers are concerned about the price they’ll receive for their upcoming crop.

Barton said peanut contract offers have been limited so far and “what contracts have been offered are not that attractive as far as pricing goes.”

Farmers in the tri-states area usually rotate peanuts with cotton and corn and normally plant about the same number of acres of peanuts every year because of the rotational requirements, Barton said.

Part of the problem is the rising cost of fertilizer and other inputs it takes to produce the crop.

“It seems to escalate every year,” Barton said. “Now we’re taking even less of a price for what we’re producing.”

A positive point is the farm bill Congress passed in December that will provide more than $400 billion for agriculture subsidies, conservation programs, and food aid.

The bill provides a safety net that will give farmers some certainty on what they might expect if prices continue to plunge, Barton said. “It also gives the lending institutions some certainty as well.”

The peanut trade show, sponsored by the Alabama Peanut Producers Association and the Florida Peanut Producers Association, will be held at the National Peanut Festival Fairgrounds in Dothan.

Registration will begin at 8:30 a.m. and a free, catered lunch will begin at noon, with a short program to follow.

Peanut growers from Alabama and Florida who attend can view industry products and services offered by over 70 exhibitors.

Dr. Marshall Lamb, from the National Peanut Research Lab, will speak to growers during the lunch program about the 2019 crop outlook as well as the current market status.

Over $20,000 in door prizes will be given out throughout the morning of the trade show. Winners must be certified peanut farmers with a Farm Service Agency farm number.

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