Four Alabama peanut farmers have been selected for the 9th Peanut Leadership Academy Class, a cooperative effort of Syngenta Crop Protection, the American Peanut Shellers Association and grower organizations from seven states.
Brian Byrd of Ariton, Jeremy Sessions of Grand Bay, Charles Speake Jr. of Eufaula and Russell Walters of Andalusia were selected for the program and attended their inaugural class in December.
The Peanut Leadership Academy began in 1998 to expose farmers to different aspects of the peanut industry. It has expanded from its original class of 14 growers from Alabama, Georgia and Florida to a current class of 22 from those states plus Mississippi, Texas, Virginia and North Carolina.
“I think it’s always good to learn more about the peanut industry,” Sessions said. “Farmers are often blind to the issues that affect us if we don’t see them in the field.”
Sessions, 34, farms 500 acres of peanuts and a combination of 1,300 acres of watermelons, peaches, satsumas, tomatoes, squash, sweet corn and pecans with his father, Art, and uncle, David. He serves on the Alabama Farmers Federation Young Farmers State Committee.
Speake, 29, farms 1,500 acres of peanuts with his father, Charlie. He is co-chairman of the Russell County Young Farmers Committee, board member of the Russell County Farmers Federation and vice president of the Russell County Cattleman’s Association.
Walters and his father, Glen, farm 350 acres of peanuts and 500 acres of cotton. He is a graduate of the Auburn University College of Agriculture.
Byrd farms with his father, Jerry, and brother, Stephen. Together, they grow 400 acres of peanuts in addition to corn, cotton and wheat. Byrd and his wife, Kendra, have two children, Bailey, and Brock.