Anniversaries are exciting times, and peanut farmers will have something special to look forward to when Farm Press Publications and its cosponsors celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Peanut Profitability Awards.

Since their inception, the Peanut Profitability Awards have honored 27 of the most efficient peanut producers in the United States. The winners have represented all of the states in the three principal peanut-growing regions – Virginia-Carolina, the lower Southeast and the Southwest.

“Each class of winners continues to impress us, and the 2009 class – our 10th – should be no exception,” says Greg Frey, publisher of the Southeast, Southwest and Delta Farm Presses, which conduct the Peanut Profitability Awards. “This year’s program will be even bigger with Mississippi growers becoming eligible to receive the honor.”

(One of the integral parts of the Peanut Profitability Awards are the cosponsors, which, in 2008, included BASF, EchoMuscle Fungicide (Sipcam), Golden Peanut Co., John Deere, Provost/Temik (Bayer), Southern Peanut Farmers Federation, Syngenta, and the Texas Peanut Producers Board.)

The Peanut Profitability Awards program began with the first Southern Peanut Growers Conference in Panama City, Fla., in 2000, and the two have grown together, says Frey. The 2008 Conference was attended by growers and industry leaders from across the Peanut Belt.

The winners have seen monumental changes that required them to transition from a government quota program to a more market-oriented approach and endure sharply higher production costs. One of the aims of the Peanut Profitability Awards has been to recognize growers who have shown adaptability in the face of change and have continued to produce a profitable crop.

“While achieving consistently high yields and grades is important, it’s only part of the equation for maximizing profits. The elements of production cost and price are equally important factors,” says Marshall Lamb, research director of the National Peanut Research Laboratory in Dawson, Ga., and an advisor to the Peanut Profitability Awards program.

Lamb, who designed the nomination form used to help determine the Peanut Profitability winners, said the form requires extensive reporting of data and considers both fixed and variable costs of production.

“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. This includes yields, costs and marketing management for the entire farm, and most of our winners come from sizable farms,” says Lamb.

Assisting with the awards program has been an Advisory Board comprised of Extension peanut specialists, county agents, economists and commodity group officials from the major peanut-producing states.

While recognizing deserving growers is an important aspect of the program, it’s only one component. The Peanut Profitability Program also focuses on education and research. The Farm Press Publications accomplish this by publishing numerous articles on peanut production efficiency. Thus, farmers from across the Peanut Belt can learn from the production practices of growers who receive the award.

Farm Press will continue to publish articles focusing on peanut production efficiency leading up to the 2009 Southern Peanut Farmers Conference in Panama City, Fla., in July. Each article will bear a special 10th anniversary Peanut Profitability Program logo so that it can be recognized easily by readers.

The deadline for nominations for the 2009 Peanut Profitability Awards will be April 15. 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.

Growers can access the nomination form via the Internet at southeastfarmpress.com and southwestfarmpress.com. In addition, it can be linked from various commodity group Web sites. To receive a hard copy of the form, call Farm Press headquarters at (662) 624-8503 or contact any member of the Advisory Board.