Meet the Newly Appointed Members and Alternates of the National Peanut Board

A green field with rows of peanut crops.Sep 1, 2023

As announced in December, four members and four alternates from Georgia, South Carolina, Texas and Louisiana (At-Large) have been appointed to serve on the National Peanut Board. Here’s a little more about these farmer leaders who are volunteering their service for the industry:

For Georgia, Casey Cox of Camilla is the newly appointed board member after previously serving as an alternate.

Cox is a sixth-generation grower who farms along with her father, Glenn, and is the president and CEO of Longleaf Ridge Farms. They grow runner peanuts, sweet corn, field corn, soybeans and timber. Cox graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Science in Forest Resources and Conservation. This degree has allowed her to make conservation her personal and professional passion by implementing sustainability practices on her farm.

Cox is involved in a number of industry and professional organizations. She is a shareholder/member of American Peanut Growers Group, LLC and serves as a board member on the Georgia Seed Development Commission and Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association. Cox is currently the vice chair of the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Dean’s Advisory Council and member of the Lower Flint-Ochlockonee Regional Water Council. She is a graduate of the Peanut Leadership Academy (2018), Leadership Georgia (2019) and Institute for Georgia Environmental Leadership (2016), where she is currently on the board of directors. Cox also serves on the Georgia Peanut Commission Advisory Board and the American Farm Bureau Federation Farm Policy Committee. She is on the board of directors for the Mitchell County Farm Bureau and Mitchell County Boys and Girls Club. Additionally, Cox is the former executive director of the Flint River Soil and Water Conservation District and currently serves as a district supervisor.

"It is an honor to serve as Georgia’s board member,” Cox said. “I am proud of the work the Board has done on allergies, promotions and research. Engaging with new consumers and reaching new generations is important for the future of our industry, and the Board does that in ways that are forward thinking and out of the box. In serving on the Board, I love having the opportunity to get to know other peanut farmers from across the country, building relationships and working collaboratively to accomplish our goals.”

Cox is engaged to fiancé Chris Kerr. In her free time, she loves to be outdoors in the woods on the farm and by the Flint River. She enjoys hiking, reading and travel.

Wesley Webb of Leary is the newly appointed alternate from Georgia.

Webb is the owner/operator of Wesley Webb Farms and grows runner peanuts, cotton, corn and timber. He has been farming for 26 years and is a fourth-generation producer.

Webb has a Bachelor of Science degree from Kennesaw State University and has specialized training in integrated pest management, precision agriculture and irrigation management. He has also participated in the Flint River Soil and Water programs and served on the Tax Equalization Board of Calhoun County.

Webb has been a longtime member of Edison Gin Coop and Staplecotn Coop. He is currently the board president of the Calhoun County Farm Bureau and recently completed his tenure on the FSA County Committee as chairman.

“The experience that I’m looking forward to in serving on the National Peanut Board is learning from other producers around the country and discovering what we do differently,” Webb said. “I am also interested in keeping the public informed about what we’re doing on the farm, where safe food comes from and how sustainable farming is important to all of us and our way of life. I’m proud to continue the work done on the Board by previous members.”

Along with spending free time with family, Webb enjoys quail hunting, antique farm equipment, classic cars, college football and vacations in Destin along Florida's beautiful Gulf coast.

For South Carolina, Neal Baxley, Jr. of Mullins is the newly appointed board member.

Baxley is a seventh-generation farmer and owns and operates Baxley Farms, LLC, along with his father, Steve, and brother, Gene Robert. They grow Virginia and runner peanuts, corn, cotton, soybeans and tobacco and have a cattle and hog operation. Baxley graduated from The Citadel with a Bachelor of Science in civil and environmental engineering. He and his wife, Amanda, have three daughters: Madison Kate, Myra Elizabeth and Magnolia Grace.

Baxley is involved in a number of industry and professional organizations. He is the current state director of the Marion County Farm Bureau and current member of the South Carolina Peanut Board, South Carolina Farm Bureau State Board and South Carolina Pork Board. In addition, Baxley has served as past-chairman of the Tobacco Advisory Committee for the South Carolina Farm Bureau, Tobacco Advisory Committee for the American Farm Bureau Federation, South Carolina Department of Agriculture Tobacco Board, Marion County Farm Service Agency County Committee and South Carolina Farm Bureau Young Farmer & Rancher Committee. He is a deacon at Mullins Presbyterian Church.

“I look forward to serving as a Board member to grow the peanut industry to ensure a profitable and sustainable future for the hardworking peanut-farming families across the Southeast through promoting peanuts and funding cutting-edge research that will make a difference in producers’ operations,” said Baxley. “I am proud of the progress the NPB has made in increasing the per capita usage of peanuts and peanut products to help utilize the increased, yet sustainable, productivity of the American peanut farmer, which was aided by research funded by those same farmers through the National Peanut Board. I am also proud of the progress made in the area of peanut allergies, and the research funded by American peanut farmers that has and will continue to help to ensure that healthy peanuts are safe for all consumers.”

Baxley’s spare time activities include spending time with family, participating in church activities and quail hunting.

Doug Jarrell of Estill is the newly appointed South Carolina alternate

Jarrell is the owner/operator of Doug Jarrell Farms and works closely with his father. He grows runner peanuts, cotton and corn. Jarrell grew up on the farm and started farming on his own in 2003.

Jarrell attended a technical school and currently serves as Cotton Inc. board alternate, Hampton County Soil and Water board member and Farm Bureau County board member where he previously served as president and vice president. Jarrell was also a South Carolina Young Farmer and Rancher committee board member. At Nixville Baptist Church, he has been a Sunday School director and is currently a youth class teacher.

Jarrell is married to Wendy, who works as an office manager at Southern Millwright and has a photography business. The Jarrells have instilled a love of farming in the next generation with their three children, Brittany, Lockwood and Emerson. Brittany recently graduated with an agribusiness degree from Ogeechee Technical College and has returned to farm full time.

About joining the National Peanut Board, Jarrell said, “I’m excited to learn what the Board does and helping to promote peanuts. I’m looking forward to meeting new people, networking and learning how farmers grow peanuts in other areas.”

Jarrell’s hobbies include spending time with his family on their boat, tubing and skiing on the river or at the lake.

For Texas, Jeffery Roper of Lubbock is the newly appointed board member after previously serving as alternate.

Roper owns and operates Jeffery Roper Farms and produces organic peanuts, cotton, organic milo and organic wheat and native grasses. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in horticulture from Texas Tech University and is a graduate of the Peanut Leadership Academy. Roper and his wife of 29 years, Melissa, have two children, Brittney Shipley (spouse Ken) and Bryson, and one grandson, Barrett. Bryson farms with Roper and recently completed the first harvest of his own operation.

Throughout his farming career, Roper has been involved in several peanut industry organizations including the Texas Farm Bureau, Western Peanut Growers Association and Texas Peanut Producers Board, where he currently serves as vice chairman. He has been a member of the American Peanut Council Export Board since 2012, having held various officer roles.

“After serving as alternate for Texas these last four years, I have a better understanding of how the Board operates, especially in the areas of allergy research, state research funding and helping fund genomics research, and the vast promotion work done by the Board and its partners,” Roper said. “We have and will continue to see the life-saving advancements in peanut allergy in children. Also, in the next few years we should be able to have peanut varieties that are the result of genomics research.”

Roper enjoys playing golf, watching Texas Tech sports and, most of all, spending time with his grandson.

Mason Becker of Brownfield is the new alternate from Texas.

Becker is a fourth-generation farmer who has been farming independently since 2009 and is president and owner of Arid Acres, Inc. Uniquely, Becker grows all four types of peanuts—runners, Virginias, Valencia and Spanish—and produces both organic and conventional peanuts. He also farms cotton, wheat and other crops.

Becker grew up in farming and attended Blinn College, Texas Christian University’s Ranch Management Program and Texas Tech University. He is a Farm Press Peanut Efficiency Award winner (2018), a graduate of the Peanut Leadership Academy (2017) and was named Terry County Young Conservation Farmer of the Year (2013). Becker is a current board member of Western Peanut Growers Association and Southwest Council of Agribusiness and current member of Calvary Baptist Church Personnel Committee. He is past president of Terry County Coop Gin and West Texas Young Farmers Association; past vice president of Terry County Farm Bureau; and past member of Plains Cotton Board.

“I have always tried to serve farmers in my area and to put myself in a position as a younger farmer to learn from later generations,” said Becker. “I believe it’s important to pass down the knowledge particularly about farm policy and research from previous generations so that we can move forward. I’m looking forward to being able to inject insight as a younger farmer that may not be the same as more established growers.”

Becker is married to Megan, a school counselor, and they have two sons, Madden and Macall. In his downtime, Becker enjoys cooking and hunting.

Micah Barham of Oak Ridge, Louisiana is the reappointed At-Large board member.

Barham is president of Barham and Barham Farms where he grows runner peanuts, corn and cotton. Barham grew up in a farming family and has spent 11 years farming as a career. He and his wife, Alex, have two daughters, Elizabeth and Lillian.

Barham graduated from Louisiana State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in agricultural business. He is a member of the Louisiana Farm Bureau and Louisiana Cotton and Grain Association. In his spare time, Barham enjoys hunting, dining out and playing tennis. Of his reappointment to the National Peanut Board, Barham said, “I’m proud to be involved with the work the Board does on food allergy and am excited for that to continue.”

Lucy Shackelford of Bonita, Louisiana is the reappointed At-Large alternate.

Shackelford and her husband are the owners of Shackelford Farms, which produces runner peanuts, cotton, soybeans and occasionally rice. Shackelford has been part of the farming operation since marriage to her husband John, former NPB At-Large board member, in 1993.

Shackelford’s background and experience is different from the typical farmer. She earned a Bachelor of Arts from Millsaps College and Juris Doctorate from The University of Mississippi. She practiced law in Jackson, Miss. for several years. After marriage and her children were settled in school, Shackelford became a district manager for clothing companies Carlisle and Worth NY.

Shackelford volunteers her time with several community organizations. She has served on the boards of the Twin City Arts Council, Northeast Louisiana Arts Council and Grace Episcopal School, where she served as two-term chair. She serves on the boards of trustees for the University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn.

The Shackelfords have three daughters: Lucy Parks recently graduated with a Master of Law in taxation from Southern Methodist University in Dallas; Susu is a project manager for interior design firm in Monroe; and Elizabeth graduated from University of the South and is in her first year of law school at University of Denver. In her downtime, Shackelford enjoys reading, cooking and writing essays. A former tennis player, she stays active by walking four miles a day.

Shackelford believes that her direct style and decision-making abilities will be an asset to NPB. “I have enjoyed meeting my fellow Board members, alternates and the staff over this past year. The marketing work the Board is doing is fascinating and I look forward to sharing a different perspective.”

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