ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Federal agriculture officials say there will be significantly fewer peanuts pulled from the ground in eastern New Mexico this harvest season.
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And that's because of fallout from the bankruptcy and sale of a peanut-processing plant that was at the heart of a 2012 salmonella outbreak and nationwide recall.
With the nation's largest organic peanut butter plant still closed, there were no contracts this season to grow the Valencia peanuts that are unique to the region. The Valencia peanut is a sweet variety unique to the region and preferred for natural butters because it is flavorful without additives.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture says peanut farmers in New Mexico are expected to bring in 6 million pounds less. That's about a 30 percent drop in production from 2013.
Farmers have stayed afloat by planting other crops, and thanks to a little relief from the drought, spirits are high heading into this weekend's celebration marking 100 years of peanut production in the region.