High commodity prices give Georgia farmers choices - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

High commodity prices give Georgia farmers choices

By Jim Wallace - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –Georgia farmers believe 2011 will be a great year for them with many commodity prices at all-time highs.

That was the talk as thousands of farmers and agriculture manufacturers packed the Albany Civic Center today for the Georgia Peanut Farm show.

Because so many crops are bringing in good prices, farmers will have to decide what crops they want to plant.High demand for cotton, corn, and peanuts have food and fiber prices soaring. South Georgia farmers have to decide which to grow, for maximum profit.

Alfred McDonald has farmed in Worth County since 1970. And he says 2011 has more promise than he has ever seen.

McDonald said "I've never seen cotton prices go as high as they have. Corn, wheat, and different stuff. But it's a pleasant surprise to me to see this happen."

Manufacturers of products using those crops are all competing to get McDonald to grow their commodity, by offering him the highest price. Georgia Peanut Commission officials say they need every acre.

Georgia Peanut Commission Executive Director Don Koehler said "Absolutely, we've got the highest demand we've ever had."

Southeast Option contracts right now are offering 550 per ton. But cotton right now is at 99 cents per pound, and corn $6.09 a barrel. Soybeans are $13.23. South Georgia farmers are watching those commodity prices, to see what they will grow.

McDonald said "I think they are watching them everyday. We are watching them closer that we ever have."

South Georgia farmers know they will plant every inch of soil they can.   It's just a matter of which crop offers the most profit.

Koehler said "So the industry has to look at where they find that balance, but it's going to take higher prices than we have had in several years.

That is good news for South Georgia's economy.

KMC President Bennie Branch said "Today's been a good, good day."

Lots of farmers visiting the KMC booth at the peanut show. They'll need more equipment to handle those crops.

Branch said "Our sales this past year were up over the prior years, which is good. This year's they'll be up even higher."

KMC will have to hire more employees to make their products. Higher prices and greater profits this year could be a godsend for the South Georgia economy. Alfred McDonald looked over today's Peanut show with greater optimism for the future.

McDonald says his plans right now are to plant peanuts and cotton, about like he did last year. But he is watching those commodity prices just in case.

Peanut demand in the last year is up 12 percent, and manufacturers expect that trend to continue to grow.

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