Shelly Nutt has been named Executive Director for the Texas Peanut Producers Board, effective April 28.
With the leadership change, TPPB offices will move from Gorman to Lubbock. “We will move as soon as we obtain office space, but we hope by the end of May,” says Mary Webb, who is retiring as TPPB Executive Director after 28 years of service to the organization.
Webb joined TPPB in 1975 and served as Executive Director from 1982 until her recent retirement.
Webb says Nutt comes to the peanut board with unique qualifications. “She has 14 years of experience with state commodity checkoff programs.”
Nutt worked with the Texas Corn Producers Board, in Dimmit and in Lubbock. Webb says her work with the Texas Commodity Referendum Law and experience as an administrator will be assets as she takes the reins of TPPB, which administers allocation of funds collected in a $2 per ton peanut checkoff program.
“Peanut farmers have been good to me over the years,” Webb says. “I could not have worked for a better industry.”
She says the biggest change she's seen in Texas peanuts in the 28 years she's worked for the organization is the significant acreage increase. “Peanut acreage has jumped from 150,000 to more than 350,000 (2001 figures),” she says. “But acreage has shifted away from Central Texas to West Texas.”
Webb says changes in the last farm bill pushed many central Texas farmers out of peanuts. Without the quota support price that had been a safety net for decades, many farmers simply cold not make profitable crops.
“Texas A&M economists figured producers had to average 4,000 pounds per acre to make a profit under the current system,” she says. “Most producers in West Texas will make that most years, if they have adequate water.”
She says Central Texas producers likely will grow no more than 10 percent of the state's peanuts.
She said the quota buyout included in the farm bill helped some growers and brought cash into rural communities. “But it was a one-shot deal and doesn't help the economy long-term.”
She says as peanut acreage and industry infrastructure moves to West Texas, moving TPPB offices makes sense.