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“We’re all peanuts this year,” says Hamilton, Miss., producer Don Self, who is also Mississippi's representative on the National Peanut Board. “Even though we rotate religiously between cotton, corn, and peanuts, the $750 per ton contract price at the start of the season was just too good not to take advantage of this year."
DON SELF, from left, wife Lisa, father Dennis, and son-in-law Hank Harrington were among the first to grow peanuts in northeast Mississippi. An attractive early-season contract led them to plant the crop on all their acreage this year.
Peanut Board programs
He’s especially complimentary of the National Peanut Board, its members, and staff.
“It was a great honor when the Secretary of Agriculture telephoned to tell me I’d been appointed to represent Mississippi. I’m now in my fourth year on the board, and I never cease to be amazed at how effectively producer contributions, ranging from $6 million to $8 million per year, are being used.
“The NPB board members are some of the most knowledgeable, most astute people about peanuts and agriculture in general that I’ve ever known. Board President Marie Fenn, in the Atlanta headquarters, does a wonderful job of running the organization and stretching a relatively small annual budget to get the maximum good for the industry through its research and promotion programs. Everyone on the board and staff takes the American peanut farmer and his financial contributions very seriously, and I’m proud to be a part of such an outstanding group.”
And Don says, his board duties have provided broader opportunities to spread the message about agriculture and its contributions to the nation’s food security and the environment.
“I’ve had the good fortune to travel a lot in my Peanut Board work. Recently, I was standing on a street corner in New York City, surrounded by people who likely never give a thought to the agriculture that sustains them. If there were to be a major interruption in the food supply chain, I thought, how long would it take for there to be anarchy among 16 million people with no access to the bounty they take for granted every day?”
“And any number of times, I’ve had people quiz me about the chemicals we use and lecture me about the harm farmers are doing to the land and water. I tell them, ‘I live on the land that I farm, my family and my parents and my grandchildren live there, too. We eat vegetables from the garden, fish from the ponds, and drink water from the wells — do you think I’d be doing anything that would harm the people I love the most, or the land that goes back to my grandfather — just so I could sell you something?’ The response I usually get is, ‘I never thought of it that way.’”
Don says, “I’m not a farmer because I farm — I’m a farmer because that’s what God made me. I was blessed to grow up on a farm, with loving parents who taught by example. Lisa and I have been blessed to raise three fine children here, and now we’re blessed to have four grandchildren growing up on the farm.
“There’s no better place to raise a child than on the farm. Every day they see God’s handiwork firsthand, and they learn so many lessons that will be valuable to them throughout their lives. It’s hard to put a price on that.”