Alabama farmers okay checkoffs

Unofficial tallies indicate that 81 percent of producers voted of favor of continuing the peanut checkoff assessment, which is set at $2.50 per ton. Of the 618 votes cast, 503 voted in favor of the checkoff while 115 voted against it.

The Alabama peanut checkoff funds research and promotion efforts, says Randy Griggs, executive director of the Alabama Peanut Producers Association. He says he is pleased with the support shown by producers in the recent balloting.

Earlier this year, a peanut referendum was narrowly defeated. Even though a majority of farmers voted to continue the program, the referendum failed to get the two-thirds majority required for passage. In earlier balloting, landowners and quota holders were allowed to vote. However, in the recent referendum, only producers were allowed to cast ballots, says Griggs.

"The farmers who actually produce peanuts and are assessed the checkoff fee voted and made the decision to continue the program," says Griggs.

Cotton producers also voted overwhelmingly to continue their 20-year-old checkoff program. Results of the balloting show 94 percent of the nearly 200 Alabama cotton producers who voted want the checkoff program to continue. The favorable vote allows the cotton checkoff program to continue for the next 10 years.

The assessment for the first year will be at the current rate of 65 cents per bale. The referendum also gives authority to the Alabama Cotton Commission to change the assessment rate for the subsequent nine years. However, it cannot exceed $1 per bale during that time.

"The tremendous success of the referendum shows that producers realize the importance of the checkoff program," says Buddy Adamson, executive secretary of the Alabama Cotton Commission. "Producers see their checkoff dollars as an investment that develops new markets for cotton and helps to make it a more profitable business."

The cotton checkoff began in 1982. Assessment fees are collected by the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries from gins throughout the state. That money is then sent to the Alabama Cotton Commission on a quarterly basis. Eleven producers who make up the commission decide how the money is allocated for education, research and promotion projects.

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