Mary Webb, executive director for the Gorman-based Texas Peanut Producers Board, has announced her pending resignation effective May 1, 2003.

James Martin, chairman of the board, said the board is now accepting applications for the executive director's position.

Webb began working for the TPPB in 1975 and accepted the executive director's position in 1982. She noted that the peanut industry in Texas has grown from 244,000 acres planted in 1981 to 350,000 in 2001. Peanut production in 1981 totaled 393,250 to 467,000 tons in 2001. She said the Texas Peanut Producers Board programs of research, promotion and market development made possible the expansion of the industry.

Most of the increased acres and production is in west Texas because of the irrigation capacity and good soils. In 1998 the board expanded from a nine-member board to a twelve members to assure adequate representation from throughout the state.

The Texas Peanut Producers Board was the first commodity board established under the Texas Commodity Referendum Law in 1969. Texas peanut growers voted to voluntarily assess themselves $1 per ton of harvested peanuts each year to fund programs of promotion, research, education and market development.

Checkoff funds now pay big dividends to peanut producers through improved methods of peanut production and improved peanut varieties.

The funds have enabled the release of nematode-resistant varieties as well as other disease-tolerant varieties. This year producers will see the release of varieties that will enhance the shelf life of peanut products, which is important to domestic buyers and export markets.