Georgia Peanut Commission to hold assessment increase referendum

Released: Feb. 23, 2011

TIFTON, Ga.– The Georgia Peanut Commission will be holding a mail-ballot referendum March 15 – April 15, 2011 for peanut farmers to vote on increasing the assessment paid by growers from $2 to $3 per ton. The assessment funds programs of the commodity commission including promotion, research, education and communication.

The commission’s board of directors decided to hold the referendum after holding a public hearing in Tifton, Feb. 9, regarding the proposal to increase the assessment by $1 per ton. The commission assessment has not been increased since 1980 when Georgia peanut producers voted to increase their assessment from $1 per ton to $2 per ton.

“ It is imperative now more than ever to increase the assessment when you look at the various budget cuts agriculture is receiving on the national and state level,” says Armond Morris, chairman of the Georgia Peanut Commission. “We, as peanut farmers need to fund more research to stay on the cutting edge of peanut production. In the peanut industry we have encountered tremendous damage this past year from the burrower bug and more research dollars are needed to help combat the pest.”

During the hearing, growers, a buying point representative, a peanut researcher and University of Georgia Extension administrator all spoke in favor of the increase. Only one grower submitted written testimony prior to the hearing in opposition.

One of the major reasons cited during the hearing for increasing the assessment focused on the need for more research. Decatur County peanut grower Jud Greene credited past research funded by the peanut commission that has developed disease resistant varieties such as Georgia Green with helping growers overcome tomato spotted wilt virus and said new disease resistant varieties like Tifguard will be even more important as growers lose fungicides like Temik.

“ It is hard for farmers to commit to want to spend more money, but I’m going to encourage all of my neighbors and friends that we must support this checkoff. If you think back, a dollar in 1980 certainly won’t buy today what it did in 1980,” Greene said. “The budgets are decreasing. Everything is getting higher and higher. The state of Georgia is broke. I don’t see how the government is going to come up with the money to supply the research we need. I think it’s up to us as producers to do it ourselves and this checkoff program is the best way I know to do it.”

The Georgia Peanut Commission will mail ballots to all Georgia peanut producers on record by March 15 with voting instructions. If you are a peanut grower and do not receive a ballot by March 15, contact the Georgia Peanut Commission at 229-386-3470. For the referendum to pass at least 25 percent of all producers on record must submit a ballot and at least 66 and 2/3 percent of the ballots cast must be favorable.

For additional information on the programs of the Georgia Peanut Commission visit www.gapeanuts.com or call 229-386-3470.

For more information
Joy Carter
Director of Communications
joycarter@gapeanuts.com
phone: (229) 386-3690