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House bill offers green payment for peanut growers

The House of Representatives recently approved the 2007 farm bill by a vote, 231 to 191. The bill extends the direct payment, counter-cyclical payment, and marketing loan peanut programs contained in the 2002 farm bill.

"The 2007 farm bill was drafted with no additional money for agricultural commodities. The Committee passed peanut program provided no increases in our target price, direct payment or marketing loan. The Committee Chairman's Managers Amendment did include a new peanut 4-year crop rotation program for peanut producers which, if fully funded, could provide additional assistance to producers, improve the environment, adhere to trade restrictions and improve yields," says Armond Morris, chairman of the Georgia Peanut Commission.

The bill sets the marketing loan rate for peanuts at $355 per ton and the target price at $495 per ton; payment acres are 85 percent of base.

The Manager's Amendment would supplement the current peanut title. The amendment offers an optional green payment to farmers. This proposal, "Peanut Environmental Resource Stewardship (PERS) Program," is centered on improving the peanut rotation to a 4-year rotation.

The improved rotation would reduce disease pressure and significantly reduce the level of chemical active ingredients per acre as well as improve peanut yields.

The Georgia Peanut Commission has asked that Congress fund the new PERS Program at $50 per acre. The current House funding will have to be increased to assure the program will work.

The bill also prevents the Farm Service Agency, the Rural Development Agency, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service from closing any county or field offices for one year after the enactment of the overall farm bill.

"We appreciate the hard work of Congressional leaders from peanut districts on the peanut farmers' behalf," Morris says. "As the legislative process moves forward the Georgia Peanut Commission will continue to work on the farmers' behalf by visiting with Congressmen and their staffs and expressing concerns and the needs of farmers in Georgia."

The House Agriculture Committee approved the 2007 farm bill by voice vote on July 19, 2007. The 2002 farm bill expires Sept. 30, 2007 and at present time the Senate has not scheduled action on writing the 2007 farm bill.

Peanut farmers are encouraged to visit,, online to keep abreast of legislative issues as they occur.

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