Peanut growers could again enjoy a provision of the 2002 Farm Bill that allowed for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to pay peanut storage and handling fees during the first four years of the bill.
The House Appropriations Committee on May 9 approved an amendment to restore the payment of the fees for the last year of the farm bill, which is in effect for five years.
A compromise deal in the waning minutes of negotiating the 2002 Farm Bill pulled peanut storage and handling fees from the last year of the legislation, or 2007. The amendment would extend this until the farm bill is reauthorized in 2008. Because payments would be made after harvest in the 2008 fiscal year, this amendment does not have a cost for the 2007 Fiscal year.
U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., along with U.S. Reps. Sanford Bishop, D-Ga., and Allen Boyd, Jr., D-Fla., offered an amendment recently in the House Appropriations Committee that would continue the peanut storage and handling fees program through 2007. The amendment was approved unanimously by the House Appropriations Committee during discussion on the agriculture funding bill on May 9, 2006.
Without the amendment, growers say, peanuts are not a profitable crop.
"Congressman Kingston's amendment will allow the Georgia peanut industry to continue as a vibrant component for our state's economy, providing jobs and a significant impact on rural communities," says Armond Morris, chairman of the Georgia Peanut Commission.
Georgia producers would lose an average of approximately $9,500 each if the storage and handling fees are excluded for the 2007 crop year. The estimated loss for the Georgia peanut industry, without the storage and handling fees, is $43 million for 2007, according to the GPC.
The storage and handling fee payment allows growers to delay their marketing if appropriate. Peanuts, unlike many other crops, are difficult to store on the farm. Specialized handling and storage by knowledgeable warehouse operators is necessary to preserve the value of this semi-perishable commodity.