International buyers and manufactures of peanuts from Japan got a first hand look and taste of Jackson county peanuts on Wednesday afternoon.
"I was just tickled to death that they could be a part of Jackson County and Ford Farms," says Larry Ford, who hosted the group at his farm. For about an hour, the Japanese listened and took notes as different individuals shared information about the peanut crop. Ford says the Japanese are here seeing the way farmers in Jackson County grow and harvest their peanuts. "They grow few peanuts in Japan," says Ford. "They import approximately a high percentage of peanuts they use in their trade."
In 2006, Ford himself went on a reverse trade mission to Japan where he helped promote the United States peanut crop. It was also 6 years go, that a new regulation in Japan forced the country to look elsewhere to buy peanuts. "They were importing most of their products from China and the Chinese were having a little trouble meeting the pesticide residue requirement," says Stephanie Grunenfelder, the Vice President of International Marketing for the American Peanut Council. "So that provided an opportunity for the us to sell peanuts to Japan."
Today Japan is the fourth largest importer of U.S. peanuts. Thursday's visit to Jackson county is just one of many stops across the southeast for this reverse trade mission. "They're looking at our supply basically to see where they're going to buy peanuts from in the next year," says Grunenfelder.
Jackson County Extension Agent Doug Mayo says the more interest in the peanut crop means a better price for farmers. There is also a record yield expected this year which means the price could decline. Therefore, he says, "the more we can get the world buying our peanuts, the higher the price will be for our local farmers."
The Japanese Peanut Council members will continue their trip across the Southeast...stopping at a farm in Georgia on Friday.