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Sorghum Notes 2-9-18

National Sorghum Producers
The voice of the sorghum industry
Sorghum e-Notes | February 9, 2018
NSP Takes Action as China Launches Sorghum Trade Investigation
National Sorghum Producers set in motion this week a strategy to respond to the announcement of anti-dumping and countervailing duties investigations into imports of U.S. sorghum by the Chinese government.

The Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China, also known as MOFCOM, announced the cases Sunday. National Sorghum Producers CEO Tim Lust released a statement Monday saying NSP will participate fully in the investigations and work closely with our stakeholders and partners to demonstrate U.S. sorghum farmers do not dump sorghum into China and that U.S. sorghum is not unfairly subsidized. NSP also pointed to the industry’s long-standing relationships with valued Chinese partners. The investigation is expected to last a year or more.

Lust and U.S. Grains Council CEO Tom Sleight also noted in media interviews amidst uncertainty in the trade that the market in China is not shut down, and, to the industry’s knowledge, sales contracts continue to be executed. Sorghum bids across the nation reacted to this uncertainty Monday, but by Thursday, the market was stabilizing and bids were being reestablished.

By fortuitous timing, almost two dozen sorghum farmers and staff representing NSP were in Washington, D.C., this week for our annual legislative fly-in. These producers collectively held almost 100 meetings with the White House, Congressmen, Senators, cabinet officials and their respective staffs, raising awareness surrounding this issue and underscoring the need for support as the process moves forward. NSP Chairman Don Bloss from Pawnee City, Nebraska, and Vice Chairman Dan Atkisson of Stockton, Kansas, lead many critical meetings on the industry’s behalf.

“National Sorghum Producers exists for times like these to provide leadership for our industry,” Bloss said. “We are fully engaged and committed to helping our producers and the industry through this process, including answering whatever questions we can about the process and the impact it will have on our growers.”

NSP will provide more information to our farmers and industry as it becomes available and this process moves forward.

Secretary Perdue Testifies on Rural Economy, Acknowledges Sorghum and Trade Concerns 
On Tuesday the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture hosted Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue as he briefed members on the current state of the rural economy and the agency’s recently released farm bill priorities. Following the opening statements, Chairman Conaway brought attention to concerns about recent events taking place in the sorghum industry in regard to China trade investigations. Perdue acknowledged the issue and said, “It just shows you as an example how fragile and how sensitive the ag economy and commodity prices are now to trade disruptions, and we need to be careful when we take actions there.” You can watch the full hearing here.

Chairman Conaway Recognized During NSP D.C. Fly-In
National Sorghum Producers awarded House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (R-TX) the organization’s 2018 Congressional Award during its annual D.C. Fly-In. Danny Beyer, a sorghum farmer from Odem, Texas, presented the award, commending Conaway for his leadership on behalf of American agriculture and the U.S. sorghum industry.

“Sometimes you give awards for one specific item that someone has done for you. Sometimes you give awards for all of the things that someone has done for sorghum farmers, U.S. farmers and all Americans,” Beyer said. “Chairman Conaway deserves this award because between the ag committee and his other responsibilities, he has served both interests honorably.”

Congress Passes Continuing Resolution with Cotton and Dairy Changes
Congress was able to avoid a lengthy shutdown after passing a continuing resolution that will keep the Government funded through March 23. The CR will bump limits on defense and non-defense spending by just under $300 billion over the next two years. The CR includes provisions that will make cotton eligible for the farm bill’s Title One policies, make changes to the Margin Protection Program (MPP) for dairy and will eliminate an underwriting limit on revenue insurance products for livestock, among other agriculture-related provisions. The signing of this CR marks the end of what has been a very bumpy road in pursuit of a safety net for cotton producers and changes to MPP. The improvements made through this CR to cotton, dairy, crop insurance, and other farm policies should make the writing and passage of the 2018 Farm Bill an easier task for both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees. Read more on the agriculture-related provisions included in the newly-passed continuing resolution here.

Disaster Relief for U.S. Farmers and Ranchers
The budget agreement that was passed early this morning includes $2.4 billion in aid to farmers hurt by last year’s hurricanes and adds changes to existing USDA disaster programs for livestock producers and others. The modifications to disaster programs are subsequent to lasts years natural disasters. The bill lifts the $125,000-per-producer payment cap under the Livestock Indemnity Program and allows payments to producers who had to sell their livestock at a discount due to natural disaster. Read more.

FDA and USDA Announce Formal Agreement on Cooperation and Coordination
USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue and FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced a formal agreement between the two agencies. The agreement outlines efforts to increase interagency collaboration, provide clarity to manufacturers, and increase efficiency and effectiveness on produce safety and biotechnology activities.

Within the USDA, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is responsible for protecting agriculture from pests and diseases. APHIS also has regulatory oversight of biotechnology, including organisms and products that pose such risk. The FDA is responsible for ensuring crops, modified by conventional breeding techniques or by genetic engineering, are properly labeled and meet the required safety standards. The agencies are now taking a more collaborative approach to ensure efficiency and effectiveness on produce safety measures and biotechnology activities. The interagency partnership will also help reduce any USDA and FDA regulatory overlaps. NSP supports the agencies’ efforts to increase efficiency and eliminate any additional regulatory burdens

Sorghum in the Spotlight:
With sorghum warning shot, Beijing targets Trump’s core farm base– Reuters
U.S. groups vow to show sorghum not dumped in China– World Grain
Sorghum farmers are the first victims in growing trade dispute between China and the U.S.- The Washington Post
China Launches Probe over U.S. Sorghum Imports – Wall Street Journal
China Retaliates Against Tariffs, Takes Strike At U.S. Agriculture – Farm Journal

Upcoming Sorghum Events
Feb. 26-1    Commodity Classic – Anaheim, CA
March 13-14  Governor’s Ag Conference – Kearney, NE

For a full view of calendar events, visit the NSP website calendar.

Market News – To view this week’s Gulf export grain report, click here.

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