Last year there were 77,505 farms sharing the nation's 1,610,000-acre peanut allotment. One state, Georgia, had almost a third of that - 529,884 acres. This acreage has been handed down from great-grandfathers, grandfathers and fathers who received their allotments years ago. It is farmed now either by the sons or by farmers who have bought or rented the land from others.
The United States grows about 3.8 billion pounds of peanuts a year and about one-fourth of that goes for peanut butter; 25 per cent is eaten in candy and as salted nuts. The United States is the only nation that consumes peanuts in such quantities, but some of that habit is waning.
Take peanut butter.
Children under 14 years old are the biggest consumers of peanut butter, and that proportion of the population is declining. An increasing share of American meals is being eaten away from home at places that sell ham-burgers, fries, pizzas, chickens and roast beef sandwiches, and not peanut butter and jelly. Also, some ground beef today is cheaper than peanut butter.
Most of the world crushes peanuts into oil and meal for use in cooking and in making other food products like margarine. The United States has been exporting more than 500 million pounds of peanuts a year and that is expected to reach 600 million pounds this year because of a reduced peanut crop in India and an increasing world demand for protein foods and oil. Canada, Western Europe and Japan are big purchasers of peanut products.