Farmers partner on peanuts

Published 9:50 pm Friday, April 19, 2013

A groundbreaking ceremony for a new peanut processing plant was held earlier this week in Flomaton.

A groundbreaking ceremony for a new peanut processing plant was held earlier this week in Flomaton.

Peanut farmers and processors were joined by area dignitaries Thursday just outside of Flomaton as the official ground-breaking ceremonies for a peanut processing facility took place.

Brooks Peanut Company, in partnership with area farmers, has made plans to construct a $6 million to $7 million facility expected to be operational by harvest season this fall.

Barrett Brooks, president of Brooks Peanut Company, said the planned facility and work in Escambia County is an exciting development for the company.

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“We will be working with growers in a 50-mile radius of this facility,” Brooks said. “We are excited to be in Escambia County.”
Frank Talbot and Lee Talbot, co-owners of the company, were also on hand for the ceremony and expressed their gratitude for a warm welcome to the area.

Talbot said the construction now under way would consist of a facility to process peanuts from around the region, creating as many as 35 jobs during the harvest season.

“Out of season, we expect to have four or five full-time employees,” Talbot said. “During the buying season, we should have 25 or more workers. During the harvest season, the plant will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week”

Monroe County farmer Jimmy Brooks — who farms 2,000 acres near Goodway — said the partnership between the company and farmers is a wonderful opportunity for the region.

“I was eager to get into something that would benefit me and others,” Jimmy Brooks said. “This will be a good thing for everyone.”

Other farmers on hand for the ceremony were Alan Edwards, Rick Hendricks, Keith Campbell, Mickey Diamond and Glen Campbell, all of Jay, Fla.

Collectively, the farmers at the ceremony farm nearly 6,000 acres of land.

Escambia County commissioners were also on hand to offer a welcome to the company and farmers as they helped to break ground at the facility location off Pineview Road near Alabama 113 just outside of Flomaton.

“We are always happy to have a new business in the county,” Commissioner Larry White said. “I hope that you have a great success with this business.”

Commission Chairman David Stokes said the beginning of the construction at the facility was a welcome site for many in the region.

“We are glad to have you here and we are happy to have done what we could to bring this business to our county,” Stokes said. “We offer a warm welcome to the Brooks Peanut Company and offer our thanks for hooking up with farmers in this area.”

Commissioner Brandon Smith said the introduction of the peanut processing facility into the county would continue to build on strengths already seen here.

“Escambia County is a large farming community,” Smith said. “We hope this will continue to build the strength of that community. With such a large farming presence here, when a farmer has a bad year, we all have a bad year. This could be a point that brings strength to the entire area.”

Southern Pine Electric Cooperative will provide electrical service for the new facility and General Manager Vince Johnson said they are ready to serve the company’s needs.

“We will be doing some upgrades to the lines here to accommodate the transformers for the facility,” Johnson said. “We have plenty of capacity for growth in this area, and we are happy to serve the new business.”

Coastal Gateway Economic Development Alliance Director Jim Searcy said not only will Escambia County benefit from Brooks Peanut Company’s choice to build here, the region could get more attention from other businesses.

“This is a good thing for the entire region,” Searcy said. “We hope that this will kick off more interest for this region and bring other businesses in as well. We are happy that Brooks Peanut Company saw such great potential in this area.”

Construction equipment was already on the site Thursday moving soil in preparation for the facility construction that is expected to be completed for production by September.