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Agribiz: Soybean, peanut, beef production all strong in Ga.

POSTED: November 7, 2012 11:59 p.m.

There are a couple of news stories about commodities that have an impact on Georgia agriculture, the state’s largest industry, that I want to share with you this week.

I know that producers in Hall County and the rest of North Georgia have taken advantage of strong market prices on soybeans and they are glad to hear that ground beef is still doing well in this economy.

Soybean production in Georgia is up almost 130 percent from last year.

According to the most recent forecast by the department of agriculture, Georgia is expected to harvest more than 400 million pounds of soybeans.

The amount of soybeans harvested per acre in Georgia is up 50 percent from last year. More soybeans harvested means more jobs.

In Lanier County in South Georgia, the strong yields and acreage of soybeans will help add 1,000 jobs there, and that is just one county. One of the main reasons is the droughty weather in other parts of the country has opened up a supply chain Georgia farmers can slip into.

“When supplies are low and other people are suffering actually those who have product to sell are the ones who benefit and that’s certainly the way it is for our producers this year,” Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black said.

Peanut production is also on the rise in Georgia, up more than 80 percent from last year.

Meanwhile, Supermarket News, a weekly trade publication for the food distribution industry, says “ground beef sales have been unaffected by the controversy” over lean finely textured beef.

The report quotes Sherry Frey, vice president of account services at the Nielsen Perishables Group, who says they didn’t see any notable decline: “In the 52 weeks ending Aug. 25, ground beef volume has declined 3.2 percent compared to last year, but this decline is actually less than the total beef category’s decline of 4.8 percent.”

Frey says that is mostly due to retail prices being higher because of availability and feed prices. She says they have noticed more people buying chicken in recent weeks because of the beef prices.

While many retailers stopped handling product containing LFTB, Hy-Vee stores started labeling the product with “may contain lean finely textured beef.” Southeast Region meat supervisor Kurt Johnson says once consumers learned it was beef and it was safe, “it became a nonissue.”

Said Johnson, “People just want to know what’s in their product.” In fact, sales of product containing LFTB have picked up a bit lately because “it’s a more affordable option for a lot of people right now.”

The report’s author, Jenna Telesca concludes, “it’s clear that retailers don’t see the LFTB controversy as the culprit behind any sales declines.”

Michael Wheeler is county extension coordinator for the UGA Cooperative Extension in Hall County. You can contact him at 770-535-8293, His column appears biweekly on Thursday’s Business page and at


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