Congressman Crawford visits Randolph County

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT)-Congressman Rick Crawford traveled from Washington, D.C. to Randolph County on Thursday.

First on his agenda was a trip to Baltz Feed Company in Pocahontas where he met with a number of peanut farmers.

General Manager of Baltz Feed Company, Jeremy Baltz, says they were thrilled for the chance to sit down and talk with him.

"We're excited to have him out here and show him our part of the world," Baltz said. "We got to talk about peanuts and other crops and some other areas of interest to our company and our market here. So, it was a great opportunity to get to speak with him and hopefully he learned some things."

Next, they traveled to a peanut farm in the Randolph County area where the congressman could take a look at the product first hand.

They went through the entire process of peanut production, discussed why and how the peanut production is beginning to move to the Region 8 area from Oklahoma and Texas.

"He was interested in the production practices of understanding how peanuts are grown," Baltz said.  "How they are similar to other crops normally grown here and how they're different."

Representative Rick Crawford says he feels this crop has a lot to offer.

"There's a huge value added opportunity with peanut farming," Crawford said. "That is the packaging and some of the things that you have to do within the region where those peanuts are harvested, so it's a great opportunity to grow more jobs. Not only are we going to grow peanuts, but we're going to grow jobs and that's important in this economy."

Baltz said he agreed with Crawford. "I think this is great," he said.  "It's gonna prove to be a great rotation crop for us and an opportunity for the farmers in this area to see another high value crop as a compliment to rice, not an alternative. "

Crawford said he hoped farmers will be encouraged to look into peanut production as a possible crop for their land.

"I understand with some farmers there's a little bit of apprehension due to the cultural practices that they're used to with respect to growing cotton, rice and soybeans," he said. "There's a little bit of a learning curve and there are some differences, certainly. But it's really not that different than what they're already doing and there's plenty of expertise to avail themselves of, so they can learn how to do this."

Baltz added, "it's going to be economically beneficial this year. That number will obviously go up and down with time, but it'll just be one more crop that our farmers will have in this area. In addition, peanuts will bring more infrastructure. There's got to be more buying stations to buy the peanuts and hopefully one day processing plants. And so, that means industries and jobs and opportunities."

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