Peanuts proven to have very positive impact on local economy

Published 5:06 pm Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Terry Shamblin of American Peanut Growers gave Rotarians background information on the forming of the American Peanut Growers Co. that opened in the Donalsonville Industrial Park in 2003. He also spoke on the economic impact the company has had on the local economy.

It is one of only three farmer-owned member organizations in the peanut industry. A group of ten growers/producers first came together in September, 2001. They looked at the industry over the 1980’s and 90’s; and realized it was shrinking.

A total of 29 businesss had either closed or had merged with others.

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They developed a plan aimed to give growers better access to a vertically integrated market and improve their profitability.

The small group of growers initially contributed $4.5 million, then they looked at various grants and loans programs. Shamblin said the hardest part was getting the $2.35 million in County Taxable Bonds. On March 17, 2003 the first official meeting to sell stock was held. In April they purchased 45 acres in Donalsonville, and in May they poured the first concrete. Their first load of peanuts showed up on the Monday after Labor Day. Nine of the ten steering committee members stayed on and added two new ones. Today it is the same board of directors as in the beginning.

Today they have a select group of growers in /Southwest Georgia and Northwest Florida and 85 percent of fields are irrigated.

It was the first new plant built in the market in 11 years. In 2007, they purchased the cold storage building that was already on site. Rail facilities were also in place, both deciding factors in building the new plant at the Donalsonville location.

Originally they had 56 members. They now have 87 members, 11 buying points, 20 warehouses. They run three full shifts, 24 hours a day and have created 85 full-time jobs.

They currently sell peanuts to over 100 companies, export to over 30 countries, and sell to all major peanut butter, salted nut and candy manufacturers. Today the payroll is over $3.5 million annually, and the amount of personal property taxes since they started approaches $2 million. And, they are still growing. They have purchased an additional 38 acres, which has been cleared for future use.. When asked if there were any specific plans for the future that they could disclose, Shamblin said they are making some updating to the cold storage building, adding new safety requirements.

Before closing, Shamblin introduced the newly hired CEO Neal Flannigan, who spoke briefly of his experience and expectations to continue to meet the quality standards set by Shamblin.