Mr. Peanut is Probably from Texas

By Laura Duclos

Yes, you read that headline right. If you are not a part of the agricultural community here in Texas, you might not know that the Lone Star State is actually the fourth largest peanut producer in the United States, and a lot of those farms are on the nearby plains.

Individual farmers from around Texas join together via the Texas Peanut Producers Board to bring awareness and advocation to the crop they all work so hard to grow. The Board, located in here in Lubbock, is comprised of nine board members who are all peanut farmers from around the state and are staffed by the various directors who keep things running smoothly, rather than crunchy. Hallie Bertrand, director of communications for the Board, explained how the Board affects farmers. She said the TPPB is known as a check-off organization, which means the Board receives two dollars from every ton of peanuts sold in the state. That money is then put towards research, education and promotion of peanuts in order to help farmers to the best of its ability.

“It’s so important that our board is made up of farmers,” Bertrand said. “They’re spread across the state so that they know what’s going on in their area and in their community, so farmers can then go to them and say, ‘Hey, next time you’re in a board meeting, this is a concern I’m having that needs brought up.’”

Ricky Bearden, a peanut farmer in Yoakum county, has grown peanuts since 2000 and said he enjoys growing the crop and hopes the rest of the country enjoys consuming them. “I feel very fortunate that I live in this part of the country and get to do something I like,” Bearden said. “Hopefully the rest of the United States realizes that this is a very viable industry that we have and that it’s important.”

Interested in doing your part to support a Texas peanut farmer? Well, you are not alone but you are not exactly in luck. Bertrand pointed out there is no specific way to make sure you are helping a certain farmer. They are all together and every peanut counts. “The way the industry is set up – they may be grown in Texas, shelled in Texas – but they could be shipped to a manufacturer in Tennessee and turned into peanut M&Ms,” Bertrand said. “It’s just about the market and where it’s needed and where it’s going. It’s not vertically integrated in that way.” She said it is more important that manufacturers, peanut purchasers and importers to know when they purchase Texas peanuts, they will be receiving high-quality peanuts.

“We aren’t selling a product, necessarily,” Bertrand added. “We aren’t selling peanut butter that was grown in Texas. We’re just trying to get people to eat peanuts in general.”

With that, go forth and eat as much peanut butter as you would like, knowing that it is not only healthy for your body, but good for Texas peanut farmers, too.

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