Nutty for Bainbridge: National and international visitors tour local peanut operations

Published 7:35 pm Tuesday, September 19, 2023

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A procession of cars and busses made its way around Decatur County last week, making multiple stops on Wednesday and Thursday. This convoy consisted of dozens of people, and while many of them were from Georgia, there were quite a few from across the country, and even some from abroad. Despite their broad backgrounds, all were here for one thing particular: peanuts. This large assembly was the 35th Annual Georgia Peanut Tour.

Coordinated by the Georgia Peanut Commission, the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, and the USDA-ARS National Peanut Laboratory, this annual event takes participants to various parts of the state, touring multiple farming operations to show the process and challenges that go into the Georgia peanut crop.

Chris Butts, chairman of this year’s tour, spoke with the Post-Searchlight about the event. After 35 years of touring the state, this is hardly the first time the tour has come to the Bainbridge area, though it had originally been scheduled to stop through earlier than this year. “We were planning to come here in 2020, until COVID interrupted… It’s probably been five, six years since we’ve been down here,” Butts said. “Because the production regions are a little bit different, they have a little bit different plate full of problems and challenges the grower faces, we try to see different production regions,” he explained.

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Technically the tour began last Tuesday at the Cloud Livestock Facility, though there was no actual tour for the day. Attendees heard several speeches on multiple peanut-related topics, including new peanut irrigation technologies and strategies to improve peanut production, as well as updates on farming legislation.

The tour proper began on Wednesday, with stops including the UGA Attapulgus Research Station, Harrell Ag Products and a tour of Glen Heard Farms fields during peanut harvesting. Thursday took participants to Donalsonville, where they toured SunSouth LLC, LMC Manufacturing and American Peanut Growers Group.

Again, the tour had a large variety of attendees, with some from the US Department of Agriculture and university of Georgia, while others came from companies like Smuckers. Many of the visitors were from Georgia, while some came from Minnesota or Ohio; those that travelled the farthest came from Sudan and Senegal.

“We’re happy to want to show off the Georgia peanut crop, the quality, the effort our growers put into producing a quality peanut crop,” Butts said, “and then we want to emphasize what our processors do after the farm to generate a safe food product. We’re just proud of our peanut industry, proud of this little, perfectly powerful peanut, as they say.”