More than 100 vendors and the largest group of farmers in history crowded into the University of Georgia Tifton Campus Conference Center Thursday during the Georgia Peanut Commission’s 38th Annual Georgia Peanut Farm Show. (Staff Photo: Terry Lewis)
Georgia Peanut Farm Show 2014
At the 2014 Georgia Peanut Farm in Tifton on Jan. 16, retiring U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Moultrie, is inducted into the Peanut Hall of Fame. His portrait, which will be displayed at the Tifton headquarters of the Georgia Peanut Commission, is unveiled.
TIFTON — The Georgia Peanut Commission (GPC) honored one of the state’s biggest supporters of peanut farmers on Thursday, inducting U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss into the Peanut Hall of Fame during the 38th Annual Georgia Peanut Farm Show at the University of Georgia Tifton Campus Conference Center.
Induction into the Peanut Hall of Fame is the highest recognition one can receive from the growers in the state of Georgia.
“I cannot tell you how humbled I am to be receiving this honor from people I have so much respect for.” Chambliss, who is stepping down this year after four terms in the Senate, said. “You are the people who make this great country what it is today.”
Chambliss is only the fifth person to be inducted into the Peanut Hall of Fame in the past 32 years. The other members include U.S. President Jimmy Carter, Georgia House Agriculture Committee Chairman Henry Reeves, U.S. Sen. Herman Talmadge and Tifton Professor J. Frank McGill.
The Senator apologized for having to leave the conference early, saying, “as you know the Senate is in session and I have to return to Washington tonight because we have a Farm Bill to put together. I have guarded confidence that this time we will have a Farm Bill that will be based upon sound agricultural policy and provide a solid safety net for our nation’s farmers and their families.
“It’s been an honor to have served you for the past 20 years in Washington.”
The GPC also presented awards to individuals and businesses for their service to the peanut industry and promotion of peanuts across the U.S. The award recipients are:
— Distinguished Service Award: State Sen. John Bulloch, retired chairman of the Georgia State Senate Agriculture Committee; Research.
— Education Award: John Beasley, retired University of Georgia peanut agronomist.
— Media Award: Rick Treptow, retired broadcaster for Georgia Farm Bureau.
Also, Emory Murphy, GPC assistant executive director, was honored with the Georgia Peanut Distinguished Service Award and the Georgia Peanut Research and Education Award, for his dedication to the Georgia Peanut Commission for nearly 40 years.
The Outstanding Georgia Young Peanut Farmer Award was presented to Randy Branch of Baxley. The award is presented to one Georgia peanut farmer based upon the applicant’s overall farm operation; environmental and stewardship practices; and leadership and community service activities.
According to GPC officials, “this year’s winner demonstrates volunteerism and service to agriculture in his area. Branch developed his passion for farming while growing up on a diversified row crop operation including corn, soybeans and wheat. Today, the farming operation consists of 4,000 acres of crops including peanuts, cotton, corn, soybeans and wheat.
In addition to the Outstanding Georgia Young Peanut Farmer Award, the Georgia Peanut Commission and Agri Supply presented the first-ever Outstanding Georgia Peanut Farmers of the Year Award to individuals representing each of the commission’s five districts.
The GPC board members started this award to honor farmers each year who have the passion, diligence, leadership and desire to see the peanut industry in the state of Georgia continue to be the highest quality. Winners include: District 1, Charlie Burch, Newton; District 2, Jerald Carter, Anderson City; District 3, Jimmy Blitch, Statesboro; District 4, W.H. “Finn” Cross, Unadilla; and District 5, Harold Israel, Smithville.
GPC Executive Director Don Koehler declared this year’s show to be one of the most successful ever.
“This show had the most exhibitors, the most farmers and the largest crowd of people ever in this building,” he said. “We still have some challenges in the marketplace. But we have plenty of peanuts to sell to the government for peanut butter right now.”
The farmers that inspected the newest tractors, tillers and pickers were generally impressed by what they saw.
“I’ve been to about 20 of these shows and I always come to see the newest technology,” Davis Selph, who grows peanuts and cotton in Pineview said. “I’m interested in the new peanut pickers.”
The show was making its second appearance in Tifton after many years in Albany. Selph said he liked the change in venue.
“I enjoyed the shows when they were in Albany (at the Civic Center), but I like it here better because things are a little more spread out and you’ve got more room to move.”
However Lenox farmer Doug Alley, who grows peanuts and cotton, said none of the vendors’ offerings were particularly appealing to him.
“I can’t say that I am overly impressed by what I’ve seen,” Alley said. “We’ve already got most of this stuff. All I see are some new bells and whistles. Besides, even if I saw something I wanted to buy, we are still treading water and are not ready to take on any new debt.”
Barry Danforth of Lenox Ag Center, agreed with Alley.
“I just got here, and don’t get me wrong, this is not a bad show, but we’ve seen all this stuff before,” he said.
Roger Smith of Sanders Inc., was attending his first show in five years.
“This is the biggest crowd I have ever seen at one of these farm shows, Smith said. “I don’t see a lot of new equipment in here, just things have been updated to provide more creature comfort. But it’s still a very good show.”