Peanut Leadership Academy – August Cassebaum – Alabama Peanut Producers Association

The Peanut Leadership Academy (PLA) is a program that inspires young peanut producers to get involved with grower organizations and agricultural extension. The academy is sponsored by Syngenta Crop Protection and the American Peanut Shellers Association. Each grower participant is nominated by their county and then selected by a committee of state leaders. The 2024-2025 class is comprised of 27 people from the American peanut-growing region. This year, four Alabama peanut producers were nominated and selected to participate. In addition, two young menwho work for shellers were selected by the the American Peanut Shellers Association. The Alabama Peanut Producers Association will be highlighting each of these men over the next year. 


August Cassebaum is a Baldwin County native, hailing from a little town called Lillian. He grew up surrounded by diverse agriculture. His family has grown quite a variety, from peppers to peanuts, hogs to hens, and everything in between. Cassebaum Farms is known for their produce stand where they live by “If we don’t raise it, we don’t sell it.” Every fruit and vegetable grown there goes back into the community, to be enjoyed by Lillian locals and summer tourists. Their operation also includes cattle, pecan trees, corn, beans, ryegrass, and browntop millet.


“I chose to apply for the leadership academy hoping to better myself as a leader and to be a better advocate for agriculture, inside and outside of the agriculture community,” said Cassebaum, explaining why the PLA piqued his interest. PLA is a great opportunity for peanut growers to understand how peanuts are grown differently across the state and country, and Cassebaum hopes to share his experiences and issues with others. 


As a fourth-generation farmer, one of the biggest issues Cassebaum faces is the decrease in land availability. “The good Lord isn’t making any more dirt. We have to learn to produce more on less land and still be able to feed the world,” he said. When asked what the most important part of farming for him is, his answer was sincere. “Being the best stewards of the land we can possibly be so that the next generations can continue to farm as the generations before us have,” Cassebaum stated. 


Cassebaum also worries about the rising input costs. “We are getting the same prices for commodities as my grandfather got in the 80’s and the input costs are almost 10x higher than they were then,” says Cassebaum. “How long can the American farmer hold on?,” he added. Inflation is a growing concern for everyone involved in agriculture. The current reality of farming can be dismal, but PLA hopes to prepare young peanut farmers for a better future by educating them on political affairs. 


Throughout his time on the farm, August Cassebaum has seen new technology, natural disasters, an and less than optimal returns on his investment, but his belief in agriculture is strong. He knows that joining the Peanut Leadership Academy will truly get him out of his comfort zone and he hopes to become a better leader and build a network of friendships to enact a change in the peanut industry.