Rep. Charlie Rose (D-N.C.) yesterday persuaded House colleagues to keep the South's peanut price-support machine running.
Rose got fellow delegates to a House-Senate conference on a new farm bill to raise price supports and retain federal market protections for peanuts, even though they had been eliminated in the House by a margin of almost 100 votes.
It was the second time in a week that the House conferees had repudiated a floor position on a major commodity-- sugar was rescued earlier--and the chief peanut critic warned that the new shell game won't work.
Rep. Stanley N. Lundine (D-N.Y.), who led the House floor move against peanut acreage and poundage allotments, told the conference that final passage of the compromise farm bill would be further threatened by yesterday's action.
"I don't see how you expect this will not be an element in the defeat of this conference report," Lundine said. "The House conferees gave in to sugar and now this will more seriously jeopardize the conference report."
Rose, who earlier saved the tobacco support program from seemingly certain defeat in the House, mounted a similarly prodigious lobbying effort for the goober.
The House-approved language, offered by Lundine, had called for an end to the acreage and poundage controls that make peanut-growing an exclusive right in a few, mostly southern, states. Under Lundine, peanuts could have been grown for sale by anyone under a standard price support program.
The Senate had rejected a proposal similar to Lundine's and adopted a peanut support and production control program that retained growing rights for present poundage quota holders.
The Rose compromise would allow these quota holders to maintain most of their production, but permit new growers to enter the domestic edible nut market on a limited scale and grow all they want for crushing and export.
Lundine and Rep. Paul Findley (R-Ill.) argued vigorously against the Rose proposal, which they said was little better than the present system. "It still retains the system of landed privilege," Findley said.
He and Lundine offered several compromises, aimed at phasing out the present program, but the conferees were seeing things through Rose-colored glasses and they accepted no changes. Rose's plan also topped Lundine on another count, virtually assuring increased prices for peanut consumers in coming years.
Lundine's House-adopted plan left the price support loan level up to the agriculture secretary. Rose's language increased the support level from the present $455 a ton to $580. Higher support levels tend to push market prices higher. "This is a system that has to go," said Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.), who had tried without success to revamp the program in the Senate. "It really has to come to an end...the question is whether it will go by revolution or by an evolutionary system."
The rebellion was put down yesterday and Rose assured fellow conferees that he would have no trouble getting the revised peanut program through the House.