- Associated Press - Friday, February 12, 2016

DOTHAN, Ala. (AP) - The land farmed by Jimmy Helms and his sons outside of Slocomb has seen well over a century of harvests since Helms’ great-grandfather started farming there in 1893.

Helms’ son Loren said commodity prices have been similar for the last 30 years while input costs have tended to rise. On Thursday, they were among hundreds of farmers seeking answers and dozens of vendors offering solutions for greater productivity during the 11th annual Alabama-Florida Peanut Trade Show at the National Peanut Festival fairgrounds.

Agribusiness-connected vendors, including finance companies, insurers and equipment developers from as far as Michigan, visited the trade show to offer products believed to enhance farmers’ management and production. State and federal agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture, were also there.

Farmers from Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi were able to visit the vendors and attend seminars and update meetings.

The trade show is organized by the Alabama Peanut Producers Association and the Florida Peanut Producers Association.

FPPA Executive Director Ken Barton said the expo significantly cut down the time farmers would have spent away from their farms meeting with the wide gamut of officials who were at the trade show. He said a driving interest in the peanut production industry this year was low commodity prices.

“You have farmers looking to improve efficiency any way they can, so they can come here and learn more about crop protection and fertilizer dealers, or speak to someone about how to cut production costs so they can at least remain profitable,” Barton said.

“We’re very grateful and appreciative to the number of exhibitors and sponsors we have and to the farmers who come.”

USDA Rural Development official Mary Gavin, whose office is based in Marianna, Florida, said the trade show was an opportunity to spread the word about the agency’s rural energy assistance program that could help with renewable energy and energy efficiency.

“We want people to know about anything we can do to help them be more energy efficient and add value to the product they’re selling,” she said.

Lois Misico said she traveled from Michigan to the trade show to sell the Ubly Peanut Blades her father-in-law developed years ago. She said he was asked to create a blade for peanut inverters after the success of his bean blades used throughout Michigan.

“I enjoy doing this,” Misico said.

“We need to sell our blades, . and the people back home need the job.”

Brian Crosby of the Newton Crouch Company out of Georgia said company officials have for years traveled to the trade show to promote their products.

“It’s always a great turnout,” he said.

Jerry Helms said it was nice to get as much information as was available in one location.

“You get to hear about new things that could help on input, and gather information,” he said.

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Information from: The Dothan Eagle, http://www.dothaneagle.com

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