USDA sets plan for farm bill

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 11, 2002

Staff report

Washington – The U.S. Department of Agriculture is moving to implement a new peanut quality program as outlined in the new farm bill.

Under the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002, all peanuts marketed in the United States must be officially inspected and graded by federal inspectors or federally licensed state inspectors. Imported peanuts will be subject to the same quality and handling standards as domestically produced peanuts.

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The new Farm Bill terminates the existing Peanut Administrative Committee and requires USDA to appoint a new Peanut Standards Board comprised of members of the peanut industry. USDA will consult with the board before establishing or changing quality and handling standards for domestically produced and imported peanuts.

To assure the quality of peanuts marketed during the transition period from the peanut marketing agreement to the new peanut quality program, current requirements under the marketing agreement will continue to apply while quality and handling standards are being written to implement the new peanut program.

The regulations under the companion programs for imported peanuts and domestic peanuts not covered under the marketing agreement will also apply.

However, under the transition to the new program, assessments on the 2002 crop will not be collected from peanut handlers.

In addition, USDA is announcing the following actions:

Appointment of 18 persons to serve as interim members on the new Peanut Standards Board; termination of the existing Peanut Administrative Committee effective July 1; and designation of trustees to locally administer the mandatory peanut inspection program until new regulations are established.

The interim producer members appointed to the new standards board locally are: C. Frank Jordan, of Suffolk, and Franklin resident Thomas R. Cotton. Suffolk resident Charles R. Birdsong was appointed as an interim industry representative to the new standards board.

Interim board members will not serve more than 180 days.

During that period, USDA will announce nomination procedures and appoint members to serve terms of up to three ears on the new peanut Standards Board.

Meanwhile, handlers and importers will be notified by USDA of any changes to existing program requirements.