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Mississippi Growers AssociationAn interview with Dr. Malcolm Broome, Executive Director, Mississippi Peanut Growers Association.

An interview with Dr. Malcolm Broome, Executive Director, Mississippi Peanut Growers Association.

The Mississippi Peanut Growers Association (MPGA) was founded in 2006 with 10 members forming the initial group.  Since that time, the MPGA has grown by adding new members and acreage across the state. This past year MS has recorded 32,455 acres dedicated to peanuts, down slightly from last year’s number of 48,000 acres. This is the second biggest acreage since they began in 2006. Mississippi is the new frontier in peanut growth!

1. What are the primary activities of the Mississippi Peanut Growers Association?

We are involved with a number of different initiatives. This is our fourth year working the Mississippi Diabetes Foundation.  We provide the peanut samples with the MS Diabetes Foundation logo on the samples, and we also participate with their diabetes walks. In addition, we provide literature on the nutritional benefits of eating peanuts. We also work with the Mississippi School Nutrition Association and the Mississippi Dietetic Association.

We are active with the Farm Bureau and participate in the March National Peanut Month. Plus, we provide funding to Mississippi State University for research and development.  MS State University, has hired a peanut agronomist coming January 2014 which will definitely help our growers with various issues that occur during production and harvest seasons.

MS Peanut Growers Association hosts two to three field days across the state, since the peanut industry is spread out. These field days provide education on the latest research developments in the peanut industry.  We also publish a bi-monthly newsletter that we mail to about 240 individuals.

Our annual meeting and trade show brings about 150 to 200 people each year.  We provide an educational program along with industry sponsors setting up booths.  This conference offers a wonderful opportunity to network, learn, and stay connected with state activities. 

2. How many members do you have?  Do you recruit members only in the state of Mississippi?

We are a small state growers association. We have about 160-180 producer members and about 40 industry representatives.  Some of our industry representatives work in other states, and we have several growers whose farms cross state borders but they do not have to live in MS.

3. Do you work closely with other state peanut associations?  What types of activities/projects do you work on together, for example, joint research and education projects?

The Mississippi State Growers Association is in a unique situation. We were formed in 2006 and in 2007 we became a part of the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation which includes Alabama, Florida and Georgia. Together we organize the annual Southern Peanut Growers Conference in Panama City, FL.  This meeting brings the four states together to discuss production issues, acreage, research and it also provides entertainment as it has become a vacation-education meeting with about 500 to 600 growers attending each year.

The Southern Peanut Growers Association is headed by Leslie Wagner, and it is tasked with conducting all of the marketing and promotional activities for the Federation: Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama and Florida.  All four states contribute funds to the Southern Peanut Growers Association, so that Leslie can carry out marketing activities on our behalf.

We all meet with the National Peanut Board each year to discuss research and development activities and through these meetings we have contact with other state grower boards.

4. As a state grower association, do you work closely with Mississippi peanut farmers on harvest issues and legislative actions? Other areas?

Yes, we work closely with the state peanut farmers and we, through the Federation, have a lobbyist in Washington, D.C. that works with us on the farm bill. We have been working for two solid years to get this farm bill passed. We also participate and organize field days across the state with the growers.

We have been involved with Peanut Proud and recently donated 7,500 jars of peanut butter to the MS Food Network. In fact, Peanut Proud helped us by donating peanut butter and snacks several years ago after the devastating tornados destroyed areas of the state.

Our association is run by a Board of seven directors elected by the members from 4 regions and 3 at-large, and they hired me to run the association.

We have received several equipment donations from Golden Peanut Company and Kelley Manufacturing Company to begin our first variety trials to keep up with the yields of different varieties across the state. These trials are run by MS State University Variety Trial coordinator.

Four new buying points have been built across the state by Birdsong, Clint Williams and Golden Peanut Company.  Now we just need a shelling plant! It has been challenging in our state because peanut growers are spread out miles and miles from one another as they are not concentrated in one region as it is in other states.

"We’ve come a long way since ten members founded the organization in 2006!"

5. How has being a member of the American Peanut Council benefitted your activities?

As we have grown, the Board of Directors agreed to join the American Peanut Council last year (2012) which in turn, has given us a lot of information on the big picture of the peanut industry. Joining APC has “unified us with the entire peanut industry.”

We now know more about current problems and opportunities to pass along to our growers, and they can see their check-off funds at work both nationally and in other countries. Membership has given us the opportunity to be involved with different activities such as growers groups, and we did agree to participate with the Peanut Foundation on the Genome Project.

Overall, membership has “tied us together with the entire peanut industry from all segments” and we are hopeful that all of this knowledge will help our growers and expand acreage for peanuts in the state. 

For more information, please visit:

Mississippi Peanut Growers Association
P. O. Box 284
Petal, MS 39465 

Phone: 601-606-3547
Executive Director: Malcolm Broome, PhD.

Member Spotlight

  • The Virginia Diner

    An interview with Christine Epperson, President of the Virginia Diner

    APC: This year the Virginia Diner will be celebrating its 85th Anniversary

    The Virginia DinerCE: The Virginia Diner is an important part of Virginia history and there are several special events being planned to mark the anniversary.  There will be two open houses, one from April 25-27 and the major one will be from September 25-28.  We will feature our peanut products and the food for which we have become famous – chicken, ham, biscuits and peanut pie. Special guests and elected officials will be in attendance. Make plans to attend the 85th Anniversary! 

    APC: The Virginia Diner started out as a small diner in a railcar in 1929, when did peanuts become a major part of the business?

    CE: The Diner has been cooking and selling peanuts since the late 1940s.  The peanut part of the business grew out of the Diner, as travelers requested peanuts be shipped to them.  My parents bought the business in 1976. At that time, the mail order part of the business was mostly fourth quarter seasonal with everything still being done in the Diner kitchen utilizing many of the restaurant employees.  It was in the mid-1980s before we had full time staff hired for the peanut side of the business. Today, we provide sample bags of peanuts for diners in the restaurant. The Diner is a whole entity, you can’t have one without the other.

    APC: Is the mail order peanut business larger than the restaurant business, and when did this occur?

    CE: The peanut side is about 80% of our sales now.  Peanuts became a larger business in the mid-1980s. We printed our first "catalog" in 1984. Prior to that, we mailed letters with order forms and yellow envelope –sized cards with our products on them.

    APC: What kinds of peanuts do you use and what are some of your top selling products?

    Virginia Diner Peanut PieCE: We use only Super Extra Large peanuts and we have a production facility for most of our products. The salted peanuts are our best sellers, followed by the double dipped chocolate peanuts and butter toasted peanuts.

    APC: Are Virginia Diner peanuts sold nationwide?

    CE: Yes, but pockets of the business are in large metropolitan areas. We sell to resellers (particularly on the west coast due to shipping costs), internet sales, corporate gifts, home buyers and fundraising groups.

    APC: The American Heart Association has awarded your peanuts the "Heart-Check Food Certification". How has this impacted sales? 

    CE: This is very new and exciting and we are the only peanut company thus far to receive this.  There has been a lot of interest at wholesale shows, but it is too soon to tell.

    APC: Who developed your tag line, "A Legend in a Nutshell since 1929", which your firm has lived up to?

    CE: My father, now deceased, was a visionary.  He came up with the tag line, as well as first naming our product gourmet. He received a phone call from Moscow back in 1977. The ambassador wanted our Virginia Super Extra Large Salted Peanuts shipped to him for a banquet.  My father said that if our peanuts were being served alongside caviar and champagne, then by God we were gourmet! He was also the first among the peanut companies to lead the way to the world wide web.  We were on CompuServe in 1993, DOS, and then Windows 3.1.

    APC: How has APC membership helped your business?

    CE: Membership has given us a wonderful source of information. Helped us reverse the decision to keep peanuts out of the Boy Scout Jamboree in DC (where we sold).  It provides a resource for vendors and to our customers.  Membership also provides us with educational materials, and funding for the Ag schools which assist us with various projects.  And it has helped us prepare a response regarding peanut allergies in the schools when we had a school division threatening to not use our fundraiser.

    APC: Anything else you would like to add?

    GC: We are the oldest continually run roadside Diner in Virginia.

    For more information, visit: www.vadiner.com

    Virginia Diner, Inc.
    322 W. Main Street
    Wakefield, VA 23888

     

     

  • Mississippi Growers AssociationAn interview with Dr. Malcolm Broome, Executive Director, Mississippi Peanut Growers Association.