South Carolina Peanuts When a farmer delivers a load of peanuts for sale at one of the Mississippi’s four peanut-buying points, the price received depends on a quality grade, and that grade can only be provided by a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)-certified inspector. “We went from inspecting about 15,000 tons to 86,000 tons of peanuts in 2012,” says Kevin Riggin, director of Federal/State Inspection Service, Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce. “And all those peanuts have to be federally graded and inspected in order for the farmer to get paid.” The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service defines three classes of peanut grades. “A licensed inspector is the only person that can complete the grade,” says Riggin. “We are unbiased; we’re there to provide the most accurate grade for the producer.” Until 2012, the state had just one federally inspected buying point, at the Birdsong Corporation facility in Aberdeen. Additional inspection points were established at Clint Williams Company plants in Greenwood and Clarksdale, as well as a Golden Peanut Company buying point in Tchula. The agency increased their the staff, using USDA-trained contractors in 2012. While lower peanut prices and peanut fields being rotated to other crops led to fewer peanuts grown in 2013, Riggin anticipates the program will grow. “We look for it to expand, more slowly now,” he says. “Every two years, we expect the amount of peanuts delivered to go up a little bit.”

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