Record Peanut Yields Don't Equal High Payout for Farmers

Henry County, AL - There's no shortage of peanuts this year. Plenty of rain and cooler temperatures have equaled a high yield for farmers like Curry Parker.

"It's been one of my best years out of the 42 years," said Parker.

In fact, it's been a record-breaking year. The old record was set in 2008 at 3500 pounds an acre. This year, they expect about 4,000 pounds an acre.

"Having that good production year is going to be the thing that saves us and keeps us in business," said Kris Balkcom, Wiregrass Research and Extension Agency Research Associate.

That's because not all the peanuts were contracted. After last year's drought and peanut shortage many farmers were able to get around $600 dollars a ton, but with this year's record crop farmers are only getting half that. Many farmers were holding out on a higher price, but that never happened. Farmers had to settle for a $355 a ton through a government program.

"This program that we're under now is the worst one that I've been under because we really have no safety net. $355 is no safety net. That doesn't even cover production," said Parker.

"Simple supply and demand. When you've got a lot of it, you can't get much for it because they've got to move it," said Balkcom.

With the uncertainty in Washington many farmers are anxious for answers.

"We don't just wait till May, and say we're going to do this. We have to plan way out ahead. Unfortunately we don't know what's going to happen. I suspect right now, as late as it is. We're going to be looking at extending the type bill that we have," said Balkcom.

"We're supposed to already have a new farm bill, but if I did things like our politicians did I'd already be out of business," said Parker.

If Parker doesn't like the answer he plans to cut his peanut acreage by nearly seventy-five percent next year.

About 218,000 acres of peanuts were planted in Alabama this year.

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