We’ve all heard the cliché “working for peanuts,” but in southwest Georgia, farmers are making the peanuts work for them.
“Peanuts are always the crop that seems to be most profitable for us and that we can count on year in and year out,” said farmer Jimmy Webb. “We are peanut farmers. We grow cotton and we grow corn, but we’re peanut farmers.”
And it’s those peanuts and peanut farmers that are the backbone of the area.
“The peanut means survival, and it means making a living. Nobody’s getting rich, but we are able to survive, maintain and live comfortably,” Webb added.
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“If it weren’t for peanuts, it would be difficult to make a profit with just cotton and corn,” said Bob McClendon, a peanut farmer who has been at it for 43 years and counting. “Our standard of living in southwest Georgia would change tremendously if it weren’t for the profitability of growing peanuts.”
“To be a farmer is like owning any other business,” McClendon said. “I do the same things Hormel Foods does. I budget, and we look at where we’ve been and where we are going. You don’t know where you’re going unless you know where you’ve been.”
Both McClendon and Webb will tell you it is more than dollars and cents when it comes to peanut farming. Passion and a lot of hard work make it all worthwhile.
“We are only about 2 percent of the population, and we’re feeding the rest of the 98 percent,” McClendon said. “With technology and bigger equipment, we are able to feed more people.”
I put my heart and effort into making the peanuts that go into that jar.Farmer Jimmy Webb
He continued, “The most important thing is to take care of the land. You want to leave it better than when you got it. The real satisfaction is seeing the job done and being able to produce a good crop every year.”
“I put my heart and effort into making the peanuts that go into that jar,” Webb added. “I tell people to work hard when you have to, relax when you can, but know there are going to be times when you have to go, and you have to go hard. There’re times that it’s seven days a week. A lot of times I tell folks it’s Monday every day. We have to get it done.”
It may be hard work, but that’s just fine with McClendon. “At my age, I’ve worked 53 years since college. I do it because I enjoy doing it.”