Peanut producers are headed to the beach as the third annual Southern Peanut Growers Conference convenes this year at the Edgewater Beach Resort in Panama City, Fla. Nearly 600 people attended last year's meeting and attendance is expected to increase this year.

“So many people expressed interest in being on the beach that we're happy to announce the move from the bay to Edgewater in Panama City,” says Randy Griggs, executive director of the Alabama Peanut Producers Association. “More importantly, we've put together a program that peanut farmers won't want to miss.”

The conference, scheduled for July 22-24, is presented by the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation in conjunction with the University of Georgia, Auburn University and the University of Florida.

Southwest Farm Press and Southeast Farm Press are included among this year's sponsors.

“Peanut growers will have an opportunity to learn about the latest production efficiency techniques, obtain updates on continuing production research, hear about peanuts and peanut butter in the government feeding programs, find out about upcoming legislative issues, sample new peanut and peanut butter products and visit with peanut farmers from throughout the Peanut Belt,” says Griggs.

The first general session at this year's conference will focus on the Washington Agenda, notes Griggs. Confirmed speakers for the session include Rep. Terry Everett, R-Ala., discussing the Specialty Crops Subcommittee, and Mark Kennan speaking on the Senate Perspective. Other speakers will be announced prior to the conference.

The second general session will focus on production issues, with Jim Hooks from the University of Georgia discussing Southeastern Water Issues. A commodity roundtable discussion will include representatives from cotton, rice and tobacco commodity groups.

The third general session is entitled, “Promoting Your Product,” and speakers include Brian Zeigler from the March of Dimes, Don Koehler from the Peanut Advisory Board, and Ben Bowden from the National Peanut Board.

The fourth general session will be an update on current peanut research. Speaking at the session will be Auburn University's Dallas Hartzog, the University of Florida's Jerry Bennett, David Bridges from the University of Georgia. and Paul Blankenship from the National Peanut Research Laboratory in Dawson, Ga.

Break-out sessions will include several topics of interest to growers, including Tillage and Carbon Storage, Water and Peanut Physiology and Farm Management.

A highlight of this year's conference will be the presentation of the Farm Press Peanut Profitability Awards. The awards program, in its second year, is sponsored in 2001 by BASF Corporation. The awards will be presented during a breakfast ceremony on Tuesday, July 24, at 7 a.m.

The Peanut Profitability Awards will recognize production efficiency winners from the Southwest, Southeast and Virginia-Carolina regions. Immediately following the breakfast, honorees will share some of their efficient production practices during a panel discussion moderated by Marshall Lamb, economist at the National Peanut Research Laboratory and advisor for the awards program.

The annual Southern Peanut Growers Conference Golf Tournament will begin at noon on Sunday, July 22. Bayer will host a welcoming gala at 7 p.m. on Sunday. The final conference event will be a dinner with entertainment sponsored by Syngenta at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

For more information about the conference, call one of these state checkoff associations: Alabama Peanut Producers 334-792-6482; Florida Peanut Producers Association 850-526-2590; or the Georgia Peanut Commission 229-386-3470.


e-mail: paul_hollis@intertec.com