Peanut buying facility being built in north Miss.

Published 6:42 pm Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Developers say a peanut buying facility should be open by Sept. 1 in northeast Mississippi, in time to catch this year’s crop.

Birdsong Peanuts’ facility will be located off U.S. Highway 45, near the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway. Construction started last week.

It will be one of what Birdsong calls 58 “buying points” across the country, where peanut farmers can sell their raw, unprocessed peanuts.

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Brian Atkins, manager at the Aberdeen facility, said the most of the peanuts in the region are grown in the southern parts of Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi. He said Mississippi’s peanut farmers have been selling their crops in Alabama.

Atkins said the Aberdeen facility currently has contracts for 8,000 acres of peanuts.

This year, Mississippi’s farmers intend to plant 28,000 acres of peanuts, up from 19,000 last year.

Peanuts haven’t been grown in any noteworthy amount in northeast Mississippi until recently, said Charlie Stokes of the Mississippi State University Extension Service. Stokes said the peanuts are drought tolerant and have high commodity prices.

During peanut harvest season of September to November, Atkins said the facility will have 24 employees.

After the peanuts are bought and dried in Aberdeen, Atkins said they will go to Colquitt, Ga., where they will be processed and then sold to corporate buyers. Birdsong is a major supplier for Nestle, Smuckers and Baby Ruth candy bars.