Recent rain has allowed many Alabama farmers to begin or resume planting that had been delayed by dry weather. Although as they return to the fields, many farmers are opting to plant something different in their peanut fields this year.
Normally, at this time of year, Perry Mobley would be planting up to 200 acres of peanuts and as much as 300 acres of cotton on his farm in southeast Alabama. This year, however, all of his cropland has been converted to pasture.
“We have decided that we will decrease our acreage or drop our acreage to zero this year because we think that the risk of investment will not reap us the return that we need,” said Mobley.
Mobley has a successful practice as a large animal veterinarian and decided that he would be better suited to preparing calves for market. He says high fuel and fertilizer prices are partly to blame for his decision to abandon row crops but industry officials say two successful years for peanut producers have also contributed to the problem.
Alabama Peanut Producers Assn, Randy Griggs said “We have a tremendous surplus in the commercial trade and government storage and as a result of that, you've got depressed prices. So there's no incentive other than the government loan program to plant peanuts.”
Griggs says there's no reason for consumers to worry about the availability of peanuts because there surplus is three time s what is normally kept on hand. Meanwhile, many farm groups are calling on the u-s department of agriculture to work harder to improve exports in order to deplete the oversupply.
The federal government estimates there will be 35,000 fewer acres planted in peanuts this year.
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