Sunland shutdown has peanut farmers at loss

Posted at: 10/14/2013 6:47 PM
By: Lauren Hansard, KOB Eyewitness News 4

The shutdown of Sunland Peanuts in Portales has nearly shut down the state’s organic peanut industry.

Some peanut farmers’ livelihoods depended on Sunland.

KOB Eyewitness News 4 talked to one of Sunland’s top producers about what he’s going to do now.

Rows and rows of peanuts as far as the eye can see, 600 acres of them to be exact.  And they were all going to Sunland.

This farm is one of the top organic peanut farms in the country.  It’s owned by Hershel Carmichael.  He used to sell 1.5 million pounds of peanuts to Sunland a year.

“We’ve worked hard to develop this.  I’ve grown at least 600 acres every year for Sunland," said Carmichael.

With his buyer going bankrupt, he had to figure out another plan.

Carmichael currently has hundreds of thousands of pounds of peanuts waiting to be sold.  And Sunday night, he found a buyer.

It wasn’t hard considering Carmichael’s crop is one of the top in the country.  But that buyer is in Houston, a lot farther than Portales.  So now, instead of trucking his peanuts down the street, he has to truck them across Texas.

“A lot more work, a lot more expense to me, a lot of trucking," said Carmichael.

But he’s one of the lucky ones.

“Well, it's a blow to me, but it’s devastating in my opinion to the community.  It’s devastating to the Valencia peanut market, and especially to the organic peanut market,” said Carmichael.

But he’s still taking a blow.  Sunland currently owes him over a million dollars and he doesn’t think he’s going to see the money.  But surprisingly, he’s not mad about it.

“Well we’ll survive, there’s no problem there.  I’m not a broke man at this point.  And I guess I’m not a broke man because of Sunland," said Carmichael.