The Mississippi Peanut Growers' Association has joined The Southern Peanut Farmers Federation.
Since its inception in 1998, one of the Federations long-term goals has been to unite the peanut growing states. Adding Mississippi to the fold furthers that effort.
"It has been our goal all along to have a coalition that gave any peanut producers group the opportunity to participate," Georgia Peanut Commission Executive Director Don Koehler says. "This also strengthens our numbers and our base in Congress."
The Southern Peanut Farmers Federation is an alliance of the Georgia Peanut Commission, the Alabama Peanut Producers Association, the Florida Peanut Producers Association and, now, the Mississippi Peanut Growers' Association. The MPGA recently was formed because the peanut industry in that state has experienced exponential expansion and growth since 2002, when the farm bill abolished the quota system in the peanut industry. Industry estimates put peanuts on about 40,000 acres in Mississippi this season, that's up from 20,000 in 2005.
"Our affiliation with the growers in Georgia, Florida and Alabama is the best way for Mississippi to be recognized as a major producing state and to have input and involvement in the industry," says Joe Morgan, MPGA president of Lucedale, Miss. "Mississippi has great potential as a producing state and we feel we have a lot to offer particularly legislatively. We all face the same issues and our participation in SPFF will be mutually beneficial."
Mississippi is working to be recognized by the National Peanut Board as a major peanut producing state, but industry leaders in the state don't expect a seat on the checkoff board until 2007 or 2008. The affiliation with the National Board will qualify Mississippi for the peanut check off program, which means growers will pay a 1% tax on every farmer stock ton they sell and the state will have access to peanut research grants awarded by that board.
"Mississippi is going to be a major player," Alabama Peanut Producers Association Executive Director Randy Griggs says. "It's a good partnership."
The Federation already has helped Mississippi growers with production meetings and forming their organization.
"They're excited about this and the time to do something like this is when people are excited about it," Griggs says.
The Southern Peanut Farmers Federation's annual meeting will be July 16-19 at Edgewater Beach Resort on Panama City Beach, Fla. For additional information, visit southernpeanutfarmers.org/index.asp.