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GFB Commodity Commitees Get production, Economic Info

Eighteen of Georgia Farm Bureau's 20 commodity advisory committees held meetings during GFB's annual convention, receiving detailed information about economic factors affecting their commodity, research and promotion efforts.

In the Peanut Committee meeting, UGA Extension Peanut Agronomist Dr. Scott Monfort reviewed the 2014 crop year, noting that early season rains followed by an extremely dry late season created a variety of stresses on peanut crops around the state, including slow emergence, flooding and thrips and herbicide injury in some cases.

The dry conditions in the summer prompted growth and reproductive issues and widespread problems with the lesser corn stalk borer and spider mites, as well as disease issues.

J.R. James Brokerage Company Vice President Jim Moore provided analysis of the peanut market in 2015 and beyond. The unused portion of the 2014 crop is forecast at 950,000 tons, which Moore indicated could keep prices in the 42-47 cents per pound range. The prices could be affected by aflatoxin damage being reported by some shelling companies, the fact that many farmers produced peanuts in 2014 without contracts and greatly expanded acreage.

Moore indicated the acreage expansion is being driven in part by the first-time availability of crop insurance for peanuts under the 2014 farm bill.

"We may have a record number of acres planted in 2015," Moore said, saying estimates are as high as 1.8 million acres nationwide. "The farm bill is saying to growers, 'plant peanuts.'"

In the GFB Cotton Committee meeting, National Cotton Council President Dr. Mark Lange said the cotton industry faces a variety of challenges in dealing with federal regulations, managing contamination and navigating international markets, particularly in China and Turkey.

China has built huge reserves, its government is making payments to growers in a key western province and is limiting imports. Chinese mills, Lange said, are moving away from using cotton because polyester is less expensive.

In Turkey, which normally imports about 2 million bales of U.S. cotton per year, the government has announced an anti-dumping investigation on U.S. cotton imports unprompted by complaints of its own growers. In the event this results in tariffs it likely will have a chilling effect on U.S.-Turkey cotton trade.

"The Turkish importers say they'll just buy cotton somewhere else rather than pay the duties," Lange said.

Despite the challenges, domestic cotton use seems likely to increase, with foreign companies locating major mills in the United States to be close to U.S. cotton production areas.

During the GFB Water Committee Conference, Georgia EPD Program Director of Agricultural Water Use Cliff Lewis said the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to address the lawsuit Florida filed against Georgia over access to water from the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers in two to three years. Attorney Brad Carver, who also addressed the GFB Water Committee Conference, outlined the claim Georgia has to water from the Tennessee River stemming from a flawed survey in 1808 that improperly sited the Georgia/Tennessee line one mile south of the mutually agreed upon border at the 35th parallel. Carver, who says Georgia never accepted the survey, maintains Georgia should have access to the river at Nickajack reservoir, which could supply Georgia with more than a billion gallons of water a day.

Speaking at the GFB Beef Committee Conference, Georgia Department of Agriculture Commodity Commissions Manager Andy Harrison gave an overview of Georgia's Commodity Commissions and an update on the Georgia Beef Commission, which will use the $1 per head of cattle sold that it began collecting from producers in July to fund research, education and beef promotion programs.

John Callaway, who serves as chairman of the GFB Beef Committee and the Georgia Beef Commission, said the Beef Commission expects to select the first research, education and promotion programs it will fund in the first quarter of 2015.

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