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Peanut Recall Affects Farmers

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By Nathan Bernier, KUT News

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Austin, TX – Texas is the second largest peanut producing state in the country, after Georgia. So it comes as no surprise that the peanut recall sweeping the nation is causing great concern among some rural communities. KUT's Nathan Bernier reports.

Try to find the Nature's Harvest honey roasted peanuts in the bulk section at H-E-B. And you won't. Those peanuts and 19-hundred other peanut products have been pulled from store shelves across the country. Yesterday, the Texas Department of State Health Services ordered Peanut Corporation of America to recall every product ever shipped from its plant in Plainview, Texas. Doug McBride is with the state.

McBride: "We found a crawl space that had dead rodents, rodent excrement and bird feathers, resulting in the adulteration of food."

For Texas peanut growers, the recall could not come at a worse time. Farmers have already been hit hard by drought. They felt the pain from high gas and fertilizer prices. They still have peanuts left to sell from last year. And that's just the beginning.

Higginbottom: "The shellers are not offering any contracts at the moment, because of all this turmoil in the market."

Ted Higginbottom is a third generation peanut farmer. He says without contracts from peanut shellers, it's hard for farmers to get bank loans and grow their crops.

Higgonbottom: "So that is really put the farmer in a really bad predicament."

The head of Texas Peanut Producer's Board -- Shelley Nutt -- expects peanut production in Texas to drop this year by thirty-five to forty percent.

Nutt: "It is huge and the economic impact to the state of Texas and to these rural economies, it's really gonna be felt."

Adding to the dim prospects for peanut farmers is some confusion among shoppers. For example, a Harvard survey released today showed one in four people thought national brands of peanut butter were involved in the recall - even though they are not.