Peanut growers from throughout the Southwest, Virginia-Carolina and Southeast production regions are encouraged to participate in the Farm Press Peanut Profitability Award for 2003. The awards program is entering its fourth year, already having honored three classes of winners.
“Peanut growers who consistently find innovative methods of improving production efficiency are deserving of special recognition,” says Farm Press Publisher Mike Gonitzke. “So, Farm Press, in cooperation with the Southern Peanut Growers Conference, has established this award.
“Since the program's inception in 2000, the Peanut Profitability Awards have honored nine deserving winners.
“In the past year, U.S. peanut growers have faced severe weather problems, uncertain market conditions and a complete overhaul of their crop's government program. But I'm confident there are growers who have faced these challenges and will be deserving of this prestigious award.”
The awards are based on production efficiency, honoring those growers who produce the highest yields at the lowest cost per acre. Awards are presented to growers from the Southwest Region, including Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico; Southeast Region, including Alabama, Georgia and Florida; and the Virginia-Carolina Region, including Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.
Winners of the 2002 awards were honored for production efficiency achieved during the 2001 growing season. They included Jamie Lee, Courtland, Va., Virginia-Carolina Region; Jeff and Jerry Heard, Jr., Newton, Ga., Southeast Region; and Chuck Rowland, Gaines County, Texas, Southwest Region.
The winning nominations for the 2003 awards will be based on production efficiency during the 2002 growing season. Winners of the 2003 awards will receive an expenses-paid trip for two to the Southern Peanut Growers Conference in Panama City, Fla., set for July 2003. They also will receive limited-edition signed and numbered prints from noted watercolor artist Jack DeLoney.
In addition, the winners are featured in special Peanut Profitability issues of Southwest Farm Press and Southeast Farm Press.
Acting as program advisor for the Peanut Profitability Award is Marshall Lamb, economist with the National Peanut Research Laboratory in Dawson, Ga. Lamb, who was instrumental in the creation of the awards program, and has designed a nomination form to be used by growers in determining production efficiency.
“While achieving consistently high yields and grades is important, it's only part of the equation to maximizing profits. The elements of production cost and price are equally important factors,” says Lamb.
The grower nomination form for the Peanut Profitability Award is very extensive, notes Lamb, and considers both fixed and variable costs.
“We've had nominees in this program who had higher yields than most, but they did not correctly manage their cost structure. We're looking at per-unit costs, and how effectively farmers manage their cost structures,” he says.
The awards program, he says, is based on a producer's entire peanut operation. “We're not talking about small plots in select fields. Rather, we look at the overall management of these growers,” says Lamb.
“This includes yields, costs and marketing management for the entire farm, and most of our winners come from sizable farms.”
Assisting with the awards program is an Advisory Board comprised of Extension peanut specialists, county agents, economists and commodity group officials from the major peanut-producing states. They help to distribute nomination forms within their respective states and educate potential nominees about the program.
Farm Press editors, working with Lamb, select the regional winners from the pool of state nominees. Members of the Advisory Board, along with Lamb, are charged with periodically reviewing the awards program to insure consistency.
Data entered on a farmer's nomination form, notes Lamb, should be based on an entire farm operation and not on individual farms or small plots. Actual per-unit costs and returns information will remain confidential to Lamb and members of the Advisory Board.
Growers may submit their nomination form directly to the National Peanut Research Laboratory, or they may submit it to their county Extension agent, peanut specialist or economist.
The deadline for all nominations is April 15, 2003.
Growers can access the nomination form via the Internet at southwestfarmpress.com  and southeastfarmpress.com . In addition, it can be linked from various commodity group Websites. To receive a hard copy of the form, call Farm Press headquarters at 662-624-8503.
While recognizing deserving growers is important, it's only one part of the program, says Gonitzke.
“A second major component of the Peanut Profitability Program is education. Southwest Farm Press and Southeast Farm Press accomplished this in the past year by publishing more than 60 articles on peanut production efficiency. It also is our hope that farmers from throughout the Peanut Belt will learn from the production practices of growers who receive the award.”
Farm Press will continue to publish articles in the coming year focusing on peanut production efficiency. Each article will bear the Peanut Profitability Program logo so that it can be recognized easily by readers.
Another part of the education component, says Gonitzke, is an annual grant made to the American Peanut Research and Education Society on behalf of the Peanut Profitability Program.
The 2003 Peanut Profitability Award Program Officials and Advisory Board members are:
Program Coordinator is Paul L. Hollis, Editor, Southeast Farm Press, 166 North Gay Street, P.O. Box 1415, Auburn, AL 36831-1415, telephone 334-826-7451.
Program Advisor: Marshall Lamb, Economist, USDA National Peanut Research Laboratory, 1011 Forester Drive, Dawson, GA 31740, 229-995-7417.
Southwest Advisory Board members are: Robbie Blount, Southwest Texas Peanut Growers Association, P.O. Box 252, Seminole, TX 79360, (915) 758-2050.
Ron Sholar, Agronomist, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension Service, 503 Ag Hall Stillwater, OK 74078-6028, 405-744-9616.
Floyd McAllister, Roosevelt County, N.M., Extension Agent, 705 E. Lime St., P.O. Box 455, Fort Portales, NM 88130, 505-356-4417.