Mr. Bishop (GA) – Mr. Speaker, it is my great honor to extend a heartfelt congratulations to the Georgia Peanut Commission as it celebrates 50 years of providing support to Georgia farmers. The Commission will be celebrating this great milestone with a ribbon cutting ceremony at the Commission’s new location in Tifton, Georgia on Tuesday, July 31, 2012.
The Commission, funded by Georgia peanut growers, began operations in 1961 and has represented farmers through programs in research, promotion, education, and communication. For 50 years, Georgia peanut farmers, through the Commission, have been successful in improving the profitability of peanuts and peanut products by reducing the cost of production through research and by working to promote and increase consumption. The Commission is recognized nationally and internationally by its little red bags of peanuts found in all Georgia Congressional offices on Capitol Hill.
When the Commission was first formed in 1961, farmers harvested 475,000 acres of with an average yield of 1,200 pounds of peanuts per acre. In 2011, farmers harvested 475,000 acres with an average yield of 3,520 pounds per acre, a 300 percent increase and a testament to the hard work on behalf of the Georgia Peanut Commission.
I take much pride in the fact that Georgia leads the nation in production of peanuts with nearly 50 percent of the annual peanut crop. Georgia has 14,000 farms with peanuts and about 4,500 active farmers. Approximately 200 businesses in Georgia are peanut-related. Two million bags of peanuts are distributed annually and the industry contributes more than 50,000 jobs and an estimated $2 billion to the economy of the state of Georgia.
Since George Washington Carver discovered the many uses for the peanut in the early twentieth century, peanuts have become a household food staple and a source of dietary fiber, protein and other healthy nutrients. Although peanuts are produced in other parts of the country, I am a firm believer that no peanuts are of higher quality or more delicious than Georgia peanuts.
On a personal note, I would like to thank Don Koehler, Executive Director of the Georgia Peanut Commission, and the rest of the wonderful staff as well as Chairman Armond Morris and all those who serve on the Board of Directors. Their hard work and dedication has contributed to the success of the Commission in many ways.
Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the residents of Georgia’s Second Congressional District, the state of Georgia, and all those nationwide and worldwide who enjoy our tasty Georgia peanuts, I ask my colleagues to join me today in paying tribute to the Georgia Peanut Commission for their exemplary services and dedicated efforts to support Georgia’s 4,500 peanut growers over the past 50 years.