More than 81 percent of the peanut growers who voted in an August-September referendum favored continuation of a Peanut Promotion, Research and Information Order. Passage required only a simple majority of voting peanut producers.

Growers agreed to assess themselves a one percent fee on all farmer stock peanuts sold. Promotion and research programs are carried out by the National Peanut Board, created four years ago and made possible by the Commodity Promotion, Research and Information Act of 1996.

“Texas peanut farmers as well as peanut farmers across the country are realizing the value of the National Peanut Board,” said Shelly Nutt, Texas Peanut Producers Board executive director. “NPB has invested almost $1.4 million in production research in Texas since its inception four years ago,” Nutt said. “It has made tools for promotion and education available to all peanut producing states.”

She said consumption of peanuts and peanut butter is up since the program started. “In order to continue this upward trend, we must work as a team, a team of NPB, state grower organizations, our universities, the shellers and manufacturers and national organizations such as the American Peanut Council and The Peanut Institute.”

Larry Womack, Texas peanut producer, said the overwhelming vote underscores the importance farmers see for promotion and research. “I think this is another good example of what can happen when the peanut industry pulls together as a whole,” Womack said. “With peanut usage going up over 15 percent a year the last couple of years nobody can deny the great job Marie (Fenn, President and managing director of NPB), the staff and the boards have done. “Not only has the promotion side of the board’s funding been a great success, but also the research funding has been of great benefit to growers. It is my opinion that the dollars sent back to the states is of the most benefit to growers. Nobody knows the needs of the different areas more than the state boards. “Those boards also come up with new ideas. Example: TPPB and National’s joint promotion in San Antonio with HEB, New York apples and peanut butter.”

Stephen O’Brien, manager of grower communications for NPB, said the overwhelming vote is “an endorsement of our promotion efforts so far, as well as support for issues management and research. Now we can continue and expand on those programs for producers.”

O’Brien said NPB is a “different kind of commodity group. We’re driven by the necessity of delivering value to growers for their check off dollars. And 81.78 percent of them agree. We have an opportunity now to do even more.”

O’Brien said the board plans nothing dramatically different from programs already established. “We will build on the momentum. We’ve seen an uptick in consumption the past few years and we will continue to expand on that.”

Most of the check off funds, 80 percent, goes to promotion and issues management. “Technically, the board can target up to 20 percent of the funds for production research,” O’Brien said. “But they have set research as a high priority and have set aside the whole 20 percent for research.”

He said the board uses the combination of research, promotion and issues management “to keep peanuts in the black and a viable option for farmers.”

The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service conducted the referendum. AMS supervises promotion, market research, production research and new product development for NPB and other commodity boards.

e-mail: rsmith@primediabusiness.com