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For Mississippi growers: 'An exciting time for peanuts'

Mississippi peanut officers
Officers and directors of the Mississippi Peanut Growers Association are, from left, Alan Atkins, board member, Hamilton; Lonnie Fortner, vice president, Port Gibson; Scott Flowers, board member, Clarksdale; Joe Morgan, president, Hattiesburg; and board members B. Jones, Yazoo City; Dan Parrish, Greenwood; and Van Hensarling, Richton.
"Peanut consumption is going up, exports are going up, and contract prices being offered to growers are much better than this time a year ago."

Joe Morgan, current National Peanut Board member representing Mississippi, whose term will expire in December, has been nominated for another term.

The nomination process, as required by the USDA, took place at the annual meeting of the Mississippi Peanut Growers Association at Mississippi State University, and was conducted by James “Jake” Northcutt, executive director of the Oktibbeha County Farm Services Agency.

Morgan, a long-time peanut producer at Hattiesburg, Miss., is also currently serving as chairman of the National Peanut Board’s Budget Committee. As required by the USDA guidelines, a nomination is required for an alternate for the NPB board member position, and B. Jones, Yazoo City, was selected.

A nomination is also required for an alternate position, and Alan Atkins, Hamilton, Miss., was chosen. All the nominations will be forwarded to the secretary of agriculture, who will announce NPB appointments later in the year.

Officers and board members of the Mississippi Peanut Growers Association are Joe Morgan, president; Lonnie Fortner, vice president; and board members Alan Atkins, Hamilton; Scott Flowers, Clarksdale; B. Jones; Dan Parrish, Greenwood; and Van Hensarling, Richton.

“We’re pleased to have Joe Morgan nominated to continue representing Mississippi growers on the National Peanut Board and as president of our state association,” says Malcolm Broome, executive vice president of the Mississippi Peanut Growers Association. “His years of experience in peanut production, and knowledge of peanut issues, have helped to make Mississippi an important player in the peanut industry.

“With the support of an outstanding slate of officers and directors, we look forward to continuing advancements in Extension, research, technology, and education to keep Mississippi in the forefront of peanut production.”

Since the association was organized at Lucedale, Miss., in 2006 with just 12 growers, “We now have 128 grower families producing high-yielding, high quality peanuts,” Broome says.

In 2011, Mississippi had the highest average yield of any peanut-producing state in the nation.

“This is a pretty exciting time to be growing peanuts,” Morgan says. “Consumption is going up, exports are going up, and contract prices being offered to growers are much better than this time a year ago. We’ve got one of the best research teams in the country in Dr. Jason Sarver and his enthusiastic graduate students.”

Formation of the Mississippi Peanut Promotion Board was approved by the state legislature in 2007, and producer checkoff funds that have been generated since then are used to fund promotion, research, and education efforts at the state level and to help support the programs of the National Peanut Board.

Today, Broome says, the association’s top priority is to increase the economic impact peanuts have on the overall economy of Mississippi over the next three to five years, to expand promotion efforts, and education related to the health benefits of peanuts, including an allergy management plan for Mississippi schools.

Goals include an emphasis on market promotion, education, and research; increasing peanut acres in the state with improved profitability; boosting MPGA membership; and generating additional checkoff dollars to support increased research, marketing, and promotion.

“Each year, the MPGA board evaluates suggestions for research projects and determines which will be supported,” Broome says. “Last year, we funded six projects, totaling $120,000. Over the past three years, we’ve invested $450,000 into research from checkoff funds. Adding industry support, Including industry equipment and chemistry contributions and other support, the total exceeds $1 million.

“We’re pleased that Mississippi State University hired a much-needed peanut specialist in 2014. In the three years on the job, Dr. Jason Sarver has brought a wealth of knowledge to our state and has been a tremendous asset to our growers. The research he and his graduate students are conducting is providing information to help our growers become more efficient and productive.”

Research programs at the state level have included variety trials, and studies on rotation, row pattern, insect defoliation, pest management, maturity/digging date, seedling diseases, disease management, impact of land preparation and irrigation methods on peanut quality and digging, and evaluation of surge irrigation as a fungicide delivery system.

Grower educational events include field days, variety trials, a monthly newsletter, publications, Extension production meetings, an annual meeting/trade show, and a yearly conference in conjunction with the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation.

A wide array of promotional campaigns and events have been carried out, including diabetes walks, Peanut Proud, which has provided thousands of pounds of peanut butter for disaster relief efforts, booths at various conferences and events, TV appearances, the Friday Night Under the Lights promotions at high school football games, the Diabetes Super Conference, the Dietetic Association, the School Nutrition Association, and Farm Bureau Commodity Month.

Peanut bag promotions were held at the American Textile Association meeting, national nutrition meetings, Christmas parades, Mississippi Forage Council, American Heart Association national conference, high school ballgames, legislative events, and peanut promotional bags were made available at business offices, at U.S. congressional offices, and at Farm Bureau offices.  

Consumer educational events include Perfectly Powerful Peanut Games of the Week/Friday Nights Under the Lights; Diabetes Super Conference; Peanuts in Congress; Eat Ya’ll Mississippi events; Mississippi Economic Council Hobnob; and the American Heart Association National Conference.

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