Peanut farmers upset over lack of disaster aid

By Dal Cannady - bio | email

SYLVANIA, GA (WTOC) - Joe Boddiford of the Georgia Peanut Commission said the latest USDA crop disaster list is a disaster of its own. He and other peanut farmers will get no help for last year's crop under the current federal plan.

"Peanuts are not a major crop like corn, soybeans and cotton. But they aren't a minor crop like apricots or pistachios and things like that," said Boddiford.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture decides each year which crops qualify for disaster relief and peanuts are no where on the list.

"We had problems last year with the harvest and would like some assistance with that. But it may be that this year is worse than last year," he explained.

Boddiford said this disaster list is more about helping incumbent politicians in Washington more than helping farmers.

"This was a deal cut between the administration, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and the chairman of the Senate Ag committee," he detailed.

He pointed out the list of crops covered on the list includes cotton, soybeans, rice and sweet potatoes, which are all crops grown in the Mid-South region, particularly Arkansas. Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas heads the Senate Agriculture Committee and is currently locked in a tight race for reelection.

Boddiford said he personally knows peanut farmers that may not survive back-to-back bad years without some help.

"There's always a certain amount of politics in everything, but when it benefits just one side of the aisle, it doesn't look good," Boddiford contended.

He thinks ignoring farmers in one region of the country could bring more things tumbling down.

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