Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The End of Peanut Program

The peanut quota program had lasted for maybe 40 years was phased out in the early 2000's in favor of treatment like wheat and feed grain. I've blogged before on the effect of ending the tobacco program. From Farm Policy today comes an update on peanuts from Mississippi:

Elton Robinson reported yesterday at the Southeast Farm Press Online that, “One of the biggest benefits to growing peanuts in Mississippi has been the relative lack of disease pressure compared to other more established growing regions of the Southeast.

“That honeymoon period appears to be ending, according to Mike Howell, area Extension agronomist at Mississippi State University, who has peanut responsibilities for the state.

“Eight years ago, fewer than 4,000 acres of peanuts were planted in Mississippi. But when the 2002 farm bill did away with the quota system for peanuts, acreage started to climb.”

Yesterday’s article noted that, “The state averaged a little over 2 tons per acre in 2008, which places them near the top in average yield in the United States. Howell attributes that to ‘relatively low disease pressure. Until last year, we had been able to get by without spraying a lot of fungicide.’

“‘But it looks like the honeymoon period is over,’ Howell said. ‘We’re starting to see some diseases creep in on us. Up until now, we haven’t had the acreage to allow the inoculum to build up.’

So, as with tobacco, the government program had frozen the area of production. End the program and new areas and new farmers come into production. (It's probably relevant that Mississippi has an extremely low acreage of cotton this year--presumably some farmers switched from cotton to peanuts.)

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