Despite a low supply of Georgia-grown pecans, Georgia producers are faced with lower prices for what remains of the pecan crop after Hurricane Michael. “With the crop pretty much cut in half in Georgia, you would expect to see a change in the market going up, but we’re not seeing that at all right now,” said Lenny Wells, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension pecan specialist.Wells estimated the current price at 80 cents per pound less than what growers received last year. For example, the ‘Stuart’ variety averaged approximately $2.30 at this time last year. Now, the price ranges from $1.50 to $1.80, depending on quality. The price for the ‘Desirable’ variety has dropped from $3.10 last year to $2.30 this year.Hurricane losses counter consumer price effects of China tariffs“With the China tariff situation, we knew the price for pecans would be coming down some this year, but it’s coming down a little more than most growers expected or would like it to be,” said Wells in reference to the recent tariffs China has put on 128 products it imports from the U.S., including aluminum, airplanes, cars, fruit, pork, nuts, soybeans, fruit and steel piping.As the pecan season progresses, domestic shellers and buyers may begin to realize how short the crop year is, and prices may improve, he said.Consumer pecan prices are still normal, according to Greg Fonsah, a professor in UGA’s Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics. He said that before the hurricane, consumer prices were expected to drop because the China tariffs would drastically reduce the exports of Georgia pecans to China, and the remaining supply could flood the domestic market. But Hurricane Michael’s impact on southwest Georgia on October 10-11 halved the pecan crop that would have flooded the domestic market, maintaining consumer prices for the time being. According to nuts.com, hard-shell pecans are selling for $6.99 per pound and paper-shell pecans are $7.49 per pound. Pecans with no shells are $13.99 per pound.Georgia suffered a staggering $560 million loss to its pecan crop due to damages from Hurricane Michael. The state’s estimated losses include $100 million in lost nuts, $260 million in lost trees and $200 million in lost income over the next decade while replacement trees grow.Drop off in ‘Desirable’ treesThe supply of one of Georgia’s most popular pecan varieties, ‘Desirable’, is expected to be drastically reduced following Hurricane Michael. ‘Desirable’ pecans, which produce a large nut but are extremely susceptible to pecan scab disease, were already supplanted by the ‘Pawnee’ variety as the No. 1 planted variety prior to the hurricane.Wells estimates that ‘Desirable’ was the most frequently planted variety from the 1990s until about 2014.Pecan scab is a fungal disease that infects the leaves or nuts of pecans. If it impacts the nut early enough, scab can cause it to blacken and fall from the tree. Scab is a common disease that growers have to manage throughout the state. It is most severe, however, in southwest and southeast Georgia, where the bulk of Georgia’s pecan production is produced.As Georgia growers begin to replant trees, Wells believes they will continue to shift away from growing the ‘Desirable’ varieties.“Certainly, now with as many ‘Desirable’ trees that have been lost due to the storm, I seriously doubt that those will be planted back,” Wells said. “Especially when we are at these lower prices, because we just can’t afford to grow high-input varieties for some of the prices we’re seeing now. There is just not enough profit left after so many inputs, like spraying them to keep scab off of them.”Growers spray some varieties between 10 and 12 times during an average year. This year’s wet conditions, which make pecans more vulnerable to diseases, caused farmers to make as many as 16 applications to ‘Desirable’ and other scab-susceptible varieties. Despite these efforts, Wells said, growers still had problems.For up-to-date information regarding Georgia pecans, see https://site.extension.uga.edu/pecan/.
At the Essex home of Lindsey and Matt Wignall, Rep. Peter Welch on Tuesday called for a year-long extension of a tax credit that allowed the Wignalls and hundreds of thousands of other middle class families to buy their first home. Welch outlined his support for the First-time Homebuyer Credit Extension Act (H.R. 1993), which would extend a popular and successful program that provides an $8,000 tax credit to families buying their first home. The program has been credited with stabilizing the housing market, creating construction jobs and helping countless families achieve homeownership.Welch called for the extension alongside the Wignall family and Dustin Partlow and Sierra Ouellette – a Burlington couple hoping to take advantage of the credit before it expires November 30. Like families across the country, Partlow and Ouellette are worried they will be unable to afford a new home without the credit.“In this time of economic uncertainty, the First-time Homebuyer Tax Credit has given countless Vermont families support to achieve the dream of homeownership. This tremendously successful program has provided middle class families a much-needed boost while creating construction jobs and boosting the broader economy,” Welch said. “Extending it will ease the uncertainty facing families in the midst of buying a home, and it will help ward off an untimely slump in the housing market.”The First-time Homebuyer Tax Credit – created in July 2008 with the passage of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act – originally capped the credit at $7,500 and required it to be paid back in 15 years. With the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in February 2009, the credit was increased to $8,000 and the repayment requirement was waived.H.R. 1993 would extend the credit from November 30, 2009 through December 30, 2010. The bill would also retroactively waive the repayment requirement for those who took advantage of the credit in 2008.According to the Internal Revenue Service, 1.4 million Americans have made use of the credit. Mark Zandy, chief economist for Moody’s Economy.com, said roughly 375,000 of those home purchases would not have taken place without the tax credit.At Tuesday’s event in Essex, a homebuilder, a real estate professional and a banking official discussed the effect the credit has had on creating jobs, restoring the housing market and stimulating the economy. Chris Snyder, executive vice president of Snyder Homes, Leslee McKenzie, president and owner of Hickock and Boardman Real Estate, and Chris D’Elia, President of the Vermont Bankers Association, all spoke in support of extending the tax credit. Source: Welch’s office. 10.6.2009# # #
Undergraduate Student Government Sen. Michaela Murphy (center) co-authored a resolution urging USC leaders and administrators to reevaluate the University’s ties to the Terranea Resort. (Raquel Greenberg/Daily Trojan) “Terranea has carefully examined the alleged complaints of harassment against the resort, and not a single one could be corroborated,” Haack wrote. “It is important to note that none of these complaints came to the surface during our first eight years of operation.” “Now that [the resolution] is passed, we have the opportunity … to make sure that this resolution lands on the desks of the dozens of administrators that we added as recipients of the resolution,” Murphy said. “Now our responsibility is personally following up with each individual administrator.” The resolution requests that USC revoke sponsorships, conferences and hotel bookings from the resort in light of allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct from eight women during their employment at the hotel. UNITE HERE Local 11, a union representing over 30,000 workers in Southern California, launched the #MeTooTerranea boycott against the hotel and its partner organizations, including USC. Haack alleges that UNITE HERE Local 11 is pressuring employees to unionize. In a statement to the Daily Trojan, Terranea Resort President Terri Haack disputed some of the information presented in the resolution. The Undergraduate Student Government unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday urging University leaders and administrators to reevaluate USC’s ties to Terranea Resort, which was dismissed as a party to a sexual harassment suit last May. “We’re very concerned about how our University [affiliates], how we’re financially supporting an institution that we have a lot of troubling evidence of alleged wrongdoing,” Vandenberg said. “Especially in light of scandals with Engemann, USC has not been known to be proactive in dealing with issues of sexual harassment.” The resolution was supported by the Student Assembly for Gender Empowerment and co-authored by Murphy, Director of External Affairs Alec Vandenberg and the Student Coalition Against Labor Exploitation. “[The allegations] only emerged after labor union Unite Here Local 11 launched a smear campaign designed to force Terranea to agree to a flawed path to unionization in which our employees would be denied their federally protected right to a secret-ballot vote,” Haack wrote. Vandenberg said the University should schedule a meeting with USG within a month of receiving the resolution, which will be sent to various leaders at the University in the next few days. “When you fund an institution whose practices you don’t agree with, you are essentially complicit in those same practices, even if you are not an actor yourself,” Sen. Michaela Murphy said. “It would be really incredible if this resolution helped pave a way for the University to really reevaluate the power it has.” USG drafted the resolution following the Daily Trojan’s coverage of USC’s connection to Terranea Resort. Haack said she has enforced a no-tolerance policy for harassment at Terranea and that every complaint received thorough investigation. “Every canceled event at Terranea takes precious hours away from our housekeepers, our banquet staff and employees throughout the resort,” Haack wrote. “It infuriates me that the burden of the boycott is falling on the very employees the union pretends to be eager to protect.” USG will now present the resolution to University administrators including Keck Medicine of USC CEO Thomas E. Jackiewicz, Keck School of Medicine Dean Laura Mosqueda, Athletic Director Lynn Swann, Vice President for Student Affairs Ainsley Carry, Provost Michael Quick and Interim President Wanda Austin. USC Sports Properties, a division of FOX Sports Media Group and Home Team Sports, is listed as an official partner of Terranea Resort. The resort has been USC Athletics’ official hotel since 2012. Keck School of Medicine also hosts conferences and events there. Murphy hopes USG will hold University leaders accountable. “So, it’s not to say that the University can never contract with them again, but to temporarily severe and disaffiliate itself from that resort until [the resort] creates a culture and a workplace of dignity for all workers,” Vandenberg said. “We have an impact [on] different communities whether we recognize it ourselves or not,” Murphy said. “It would be really meaningful to see a long term culture shift in USC.”