Carolina Peanut Crop Getting Off to a Slow Start

This spring has not been exactly ideal peanut growing weather according to Bob Sutter, CEO of the NC Peanut Growers Association:

“No, it has not. It’s been wet, and it’s caused producers to skip around, and skip the wet spots, but I think they finally got it all planted, and the cool weather has slowed down that growth, and slowed down the uptake of insecticide into the plant. So, we had some thrips damage early on, but I think that’s backed off a little bit, so basically we’re ready for the sun to come out. We’ve got a good stand a good crop out there, acres are up, should be around 100,000 acres…should be another good season.”

Last night was peanut night at Bulls Stadium in Durham, just another promotion that NC Peanut Growers participates in to promote Carolina/Virginia grown peanuts:

“Yeah, we’re hoping the rain will hold off at Bull Stadium, in Durham. It’s Peanut Night at Bull Stadium, of course we hope it’s Peanut Night every night at Bull Stadium, because that’s one of the number one snack foods that’s served at the stadium, so the producers of North Carolina are doing there part to make sure, no matter what ball park you’re at, has got plenty to eat.”

While farm bill negotiations are very early, and the House has yet to get into the game, rice and peanut growers are already expressing concerns about the senate proposed safety net according to Sutter:

“Well, peanuts and rice are both concerned that the ARC program that’s in the Senate bill, is not as good to us as other crops, because our prices have been roughly, low, over the last five years. So, it takes a snapshot in time, and if you look at prices…quote-unquote guarantee that the other commodities get are not as attractive to us, and we would prefer to have the counter-cyclical payment and that’s what Senator Saxby Chambliss of Georgia is pushing. An industry, as a whole, I think we’re pretty united that we want some type of counter-cyclical program like we currently have.”

All this ties back to other major crops having the futures market to dictate how their safety net is going to be triggered. Of course, Sutter reminds us, peanuts, nor rice are traded on the futures market:

“That is a problem we have in terms of other risk management programs that we’re trying to get. In the Senate bill there is a revenue policy that RMA, Risk Management Agency was required to implement. And indeed, if the Senate bill passes as submitted, then we will have a revenue policy, but it’s very difficult to come up with a revenue price because we don’t have the futures market.”

Of course, it is still very early in the farm bill game, and the house has yet to present any type of farm bill legislation. Sutter says if the two bills don’t agree, and they likely won’t, anything can happen:

“All along, Mr. Lucas, in the House, said he was going to put in a counter-cyclical program, and we expect it to happen in the house. Whether it happens in the Senate or not is still really questionable. So, what that will mean is if the senate doesn’t have it and the house has it, then you have to conference it. and when the two houses conference their two particular farm bills, anything can happen.”

And Sutter says that most crops aren’t happy with what’s been proposed thus far:

“Make no mistake, none of the crops has come out on the good end of the stick because this ARC program is going to cover only 10% of your revenue. So, it’s not overly gracious if prices go down and your revenue is short. Nobody’s saying this is a slam-dunk for agriculture, because it certainly is not.”

Bob Sutter, CEO of the NC Peanut Growers association. is dedicated to serving the agricultural industry in the Carolinas and Virginia with the latest ag news, exclusive regional weather station readings, and key crop market information. The website is a companion of the Southern Farm Network, provider of daily agricultural radio programming to the Carolinas since 1974. presents radio programs, interviews and news relevant to crop and livestock production and research throughout the mid-Atlantic agricultural community.