Note to Vilsack: Buy Peanut Butter

The peanut industry last week urged USDA to buy peanut butter for the federal feeding program.

Published on: May 11, 2009

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack earlier this year announced additional food purchases in the hope they would improve agricultural markets: dry milk, turkey, pork, lamb and walnuts.

No peanuts - a glaring omission to the Georgia Peanut Commission and 11 other peanut organizations.

"Despite the market issues faced by U.S. peanut producers, the salmonella recall and an oversupply of peanuts, U.S. government purchases of peanut butter have declined by 63% since peak purchases in 1992," the GPC noted in a press release last week that included a copy of the grower organization's letter to Vilsack asking USDA to buy more peanut butter.

Twelve peanut organizations, the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers Union signed onto the letter to urge Vilsack to increase the USDA feeding program purchases of peanut butter to the purchase levels of the early 1990s. Peanut butter purchases by USDA peaked in the early 1990s at slightly more than 82 million pounds. Those purchases dropped by more than half to just less than 31 million pounds for 2007-08.

"We believe the peanut industry has faced an extremely trying quarter and would benefit greatly from additional government purchases," said Armond Morris, chairman of the Georgia Peanut Commission. "These purchases would not only increase product demand, but would also show government confidence in peanut products in the wake of the salmonella recall."

GPS points out that state and federal government research shows peanut butter is one of the more nutritious products for kids and adults. Peanut butter is rich in protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals.

"During one of the most difficult economic periods for our nation, peanut butter offers a low cost, healthy product for America's families," Morris said. "This is an opportunity for the USDA to assist consumers with a nutritious, low-cost product and help peanut producers too."