USDA Appoints Six New Members and Alternates to National Peanut Board

Sept. 19, 2016—ATLANTA— United States Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently appointed three members and three alternates to serve on the National Peanut Board. The appointees will serve three-year terms beginning Jan. 1, 2017, and ending Dec. 31, 2019. The members and alternates will be sworn in by USDA at the quarterly National Peanut Board Meeting Dec. 6-7, 2016.

For Arkansas, Gregory Gill of Walnut Ridge is the reappointed Board member.

Gill operates Greg Gill Farms and has been engaged in peanut production most recently for six years. Gill previously grew peanuts with his father from 1968-1979. “I feel honored to have been selected for the National Peanut Board and I hope that I represent Arkansas well,” said Gill. “There’s a lot of potential for peanuts in Arkansas and I plan to learn what I can to help our state’s growers.” Gill grows runner peanuts, rice, corn and soybeans. He and his wife Kim have three children, Jennifer, Gary and Nash; son-in-law, Scott; daughter-in-law, Holly; and two grandchildren, Luke and Paige. Gary also operates his own farm.

Gill graduated from Highland High School and attended Arkansas State University in Jonesboro. He is current president of the Arkansas Peanut Growers Association and member of the Arkansas Rice Growers Association. He serves as a member on the Lawrence County School Board, was a former board member of Farm Service, Inc. and the Northeast Arkansas Horse Show Association. In his spare time, Gill enjoys horse showing, snow skiing in Colorado, spending time outdoors and staying active with Nash’s sporting events.

Gregory Baltz of Pocahontas is the reappointed alternate member.

Baltz operates Running Lake Farms and has been growing peanuts for six years. He farms runner peanuts, rice, corn and soybeans. “There’s been great work done by predecessors to establish peanuts in Arkansas,” said Baltz. “I’m honored that Arkansas has been accepted as a major peanut-producing state and hope we can be a model for the industry.”

Baltz and his wife Mary Nell have been married for nearly 40 years and have three children: Lewis, a geologist; Clinton, a mechanical engineer; and Angela, a biomedical engineer.

Baltz graduated from University of Arkansas with a degree in biological and agricultural engineering. He is a current member and former county president of Farm Bureau and current member of Farm Bureau National Peanut Advisory Committee, Black River Technical College Ag Advisory Committee and University of Arkansas Academy of Biological and Agricultural Engineers. Baltz is a former executive officer of the Knights of Columbus. He is a crops spokesperson for the development of the Arkansas Water Plan and is involved with intensive crop drying research with the University of Arkansas. In his spare time, Baltz enjoys traveling across the country and internationally.

For New Mexico, Jim Chandler of Portales is the newly-appointed Board member.

Jim Chandler has been farming for more than 50 years. He is a multi-generational farmer as he and his son Colin are partners in a farming business that Chandler’s father began in 1965. He grows corn, cotton, hay, wheatlage, grain sorghum and peanuts and pastures cattle. Chandler has a diverse background working in greenhouses, as a welder, teacher and university grounds director; in addition to his career in farming. He attended Eastern New Mexico University.

Chandler believes the National Peanut Board is important because farmers need advocates to correct misperceptions about conventional agriculture that have become barriers to consumption. “NPB does a good job in that advocacy arena and helps in the development of new and improved foods and varieties involving peanuts.”

Chandler is active in agricultural and community organizations. He is an officer on the New Mexico Peanut Growers Association, New Mexico Peanut Commission, New Mexico Peanut Research Board and New Mexico State University Ag Science Center. He was the co-founder and director of Sunland, Inc., past member of New Mexico Chili Association and former officer on the New Mexico Farm Bureau. He is active with his church and served for many years on the local school board and as a local and regional science fair judge. Chandler and his wife Judy, a retired schoolteacher, have two other children, Lorin and Tracy (Altman). In his free time, Chandler enjoys making knives, ironworks and woodworking.

Karen Jackson of Seminole, Texas, is the newly-appointed New Mexico alternate member.

Jackson is a partner of Gary and Karen Jackson Farms based in Lea County, New Mexico.  Their acreage is not only in eastern New Mexico, but also in several counties in west Texas. They grow peanuts, cotton, peppers, watermelons and rosemary.

“I look forward to serving on the National Peanut Board and learning from the new experiences,” said Jackson. “We have been growing peanuts for 20 years and I know how important it is to keep learning new things.”

Jackson received a bachelor of science degree in education from the University of the Southwest. She has worked with the farming operation in the capacity of accounts payable and payroll for the past six years. Prior to that, she taught at Seminole Middle School for five years.  Currently she serves on the board of the Seminole I. S.D. Education Foundation, a charitable education association. The Jacksons are members of South Seminole Baptist Church where Karen serves in the youth ministry. They have one daughter, Lacy, 17.

In her spare time, Jackson heads up the Seminole High School Summer Golf Association. She enjoys playing golf and spending time outdoors.

For Oklahoma, Les Crall of Weatherford is the newly-appointed Board member.

Crall has been in peanut farming for 20 years and previously served as the National Peanut Board alternate member for Oklahoma. He currently serves as chairman of the Oklahoma Peanut Commission and a former member of the Peanut Standards Board. “I am very pleased and excited to be a member of the National Peanut Board and to promote sustainability in agriculture,” Crall said.

Crall has bachelor of science degree in accounting and computer science and M.B.A. degrees from Southwestern Oklahoma State University and a J.D. degree from University of Oklahoma. Crall’s primary farming enterprises are growing peanuts, wheat, grain sorghum, hay and maintaining a cow-calf herd. Crall is also the past president of the Weatherford Rotary Club, past-president of the Weatherford Chamber of Commerce and a Paul Harris Fellow. Crall is a member of the Weatherford United Methodist Church. In his spare time, he enjoys sports and provides the radio broadcast commentary for the Southwestern Oklahoma State University Bulldogs football team and has been the public address announcer during the basketball season for nearly three decades. 

Gayle White of Frederick is the newly-appointed alternate member.

White is the owner/operator of White Farm and Ranch with her husband, Joe D., and has been engaged in peanut production for more than 25 years. “I appreciate the chance to continue serving the peanut industry as a member of the National Peanut Board,” said White. The White family grows Virginia peanuts, cotton, corn and wheat, and raises Angus cattle. The Whites three children, Jessica (Lewis), Whitney (Bell) and Austin, and two sons-in-law, Justin Lewis and Brandon Bell, are also involved in farming and agriculture.

White is the immediate past chairman of the National Peanut Board. Also, she has served as president of the Tillman County Farm Bureau Women’s Committee, president of Ag Boosters and publicity chair of the Tillman County Junior Livestock Show board of directors. She has served on the board of directors for the Oklahoma City Sirloin Club and the Resolutions Committee of the Tillman County Farm Bureau. In her spare time, White enjoys traveling to new and interesting places and spending time with family and friends.

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