THE SIGNUP PERIOD for the new peanut quota buyout program authorized in the 2003 farm bill began Sept. 3 and will end Nov. 22, according to Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman. Buyout payments will be made after all program regulations have been issued. No timetable was given for the completion of that task.

Generally, to be eligible for the buyout program, a person must have owned 2001 basic peanut quota as of May 13, 2002. Eligible persons will have the option of receiving a buyout payment of 11 cents per quota pound owned in five equal installments or a lump sum payment of 55 cents per pound.

Letters were sent to producers in July asking them to update their peanut acreage history and yield information with USDA's Farm Service Agency. The information will be used to determine each peanut producer's peanut base and yield for direct and counter-cyclical peanut payments for 2002 through 2007.

Peanut quota holders on record in their local FSA offices will soon be notified by letter of their potential quota buyout eligibility.