More than 80 people representing all sectors of the U.S. peanut supply chain recently came together to discuss a unified effort to handle aflatoxin.
We’ve reported over the last few years the aflatoxin conversations taking place anew for the industry, especially how the issue costs money for each sector of the supply chain, including growers, and how the issue is also a regulatory and trade punching bag on the global stage for the U.S. peanut industry.
The stated goal of the U.S. Peanut Quality Symposium Nov. 29-30 in Tifton, Ga., was to drive coordination and collaboration in research and innovation as it relates to aflatoxin research in the U.S. peanut industry and to come up with some research priorities moving forward.
The American Peanut Council spearheaded the summit, with close cooperation with the University of Georgia, University of Florida, and Fort Valley State University. The group met in full, but participants also split into four groups for in-depth discussion. Each group rotated to four different rooms: the Pre-harvest Room, the Post-Harvest Handling and Storage Room, the Shelling/Manufacturing/Processing Room, and the Regulatory/Health & Nutrition Room.
The industry has addressed aflatoxin for decades. We know we must and know we can mitigate things to limit or to keep aflatoxin out of the supply chain, but sometimes it just comes down to the whims of Mother Nature on how much the issue impacts a year’s crop. That’s okay. The summit was a more-official platform to refocus the industry efforts, and that’s a good thing.
Other than the direct issue, aflatoxin, three things stood out at the summit, if you momentarily looked at a different angle:
- For two days, the best peanut minds and industry movers and shakers in the United States, which also means the best in the peanut world, were in one room together in south Georgia.
- Though small, the group was diverse, with many generations, genders, and races represented. It was particularly good to see younger faces and voices readily engaged in the conversation.
- Cooperation is not exclusive to the peanut industry. The U.S. agricultural industry has done a good job organizing and rallying the grassroots support needed to address all issues, from the farm to the global consumer and all in between. But this the peanut summit was a good example on how to organize segments and approach an issue anew.
The summit ended with recommendations on what to do next based on participant feedback. The organizers are prioritizing the recommendations and direction. We’ll report on the progress the industry makes.
Thanks for reading.