Senate Passes Budget Resolution
The Senate Agriculture Committee passed its 2018 budget resolution late Thursday evening further paving the way for tax reform and development of the 2018 Farm Bill. Unlike the House version, which included instructions for a $10 billion cut to agriculture, the Senate version included no instructions for cuts to agriculture. The House and Senate now need to agree on a final budget resolution. The House is expected to review the budget blueprint sometime next week when it returns from recess. If the House-Senate deal omits any required cuts to agriculture, the House and Senate agriculture committees will be able to write the 2018 Farm Bill within spending amounts projected under the current law. It will not allow for additional spending, but it will not require any cuts to be made either.
Two More USDA Nominations Advance
The Senate Agriculture Committee advanced the nominations of Bill Northey and Greg Ibach by a voice vote this week to serve as undersecretaries at USDA. Due to Senate rules that prevent the committee and full Senate from acting the same day, the nominations will not go to the Senate floor until next week. However, there is some confusion regarding Northey’s role as his position, undersecretary for farm and conservation programs, reflects a reorganization by the department. Although the Senate Agriculture Committee approved his nomination, it was not to that particular job. The committee action was for the existing USDA position, undersecretary for farm and foreign agriculture programs. The committee’s leaders sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue yesterday stating that Northey should not serve in the reorganized job until Congress passes legislation clarifying the switch in roles. The issue is that, legally, someone can not be confirmed by the Senate for one position and then serve in another. The potential end result could be simply barring Northey from taking charge of the Natural Resources Conservation Service until Congress gives its approval.
Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) is hoping to schedule a hearing next week for Sam Clovis who has been nominated to serve as undersecretary for research, economics and education.
NSP and Other Ag Groups Reiterate Support for Agreement’s Regional Benefits
Following the fourth round of the NAFTA renegotiations, a joint statement was made by the U.S. Grains Council (USGC), U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC), National Sorghum Producers (NSP), National Renderers Association (NRA), the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and the Mexican livestock industry that are part of the Consejo Nacional Agropecuario (National Agricultural Council in Mexico or CNA) reinforcing the value NAFTA has provided the grain and livestock industries and reiterating their commitement to a strong trading relationship under NAFTA. Read the statement here.
EPA Administrator Trying to End “Sue and Settle” Norm
The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to ask for the consent of the industries and companies it regulates before agreeing to any deadlines for environmental action sought by special interest groups, according to a new directive issued by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. The EPA will notify states or industries of any petitions or lawsuits that may affect them and will take any and all appropriate steps to achieve the participation of industry during negotiations, Pruitt wrote in his directive that is intended to end the agency’s so-called sue and settle practice. Pruitt’s directive applies to both environmental and industry groups’ suits.
The Administration Shows Support for the Renewable Fuel Standard
The Trump Administration is pledging its support for the Renewable Fuel Standard as the comment period for a controversial proposal under the plan comes to a close. The 15-day comment period concluded on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Notice of Data Availability (NODA) that could potentially lead to lower biodiesel volumes for 2018. In the NODA, the agency discussed reductions of biomass-based diesel, lowering the advanced biofuel and total renewable fuel Renewable Volume Obligations (RVO).
Senators Stand Ground on Opposition to Potential Reduction in RFS Volumes
On Wednesday, President Donald Trump spoke with Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds who said she
thought the administration was feeling the pressure from biofuels advocates. Additionally, Iowa Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) recently outlined their opposition to the proposed cuts in a bipartisan letter signed by 38 U.S. Senators. Senator Ernst, among other members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, postponed the hearing considering key Environmental Protection Agency officials. The nominees scheduled for consideration include Michael Dourson, nominated to run the EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, and Bill Wehrum tabbed to run the agency’s Air and Radiation office and in charge of administering the renewable fuels program. Senator Ernst said those confirmation votes in the Senate will not happen until the EPA abandons its retraction of the renewable fuels production mandates.
FDA Announces Public Meetings on Agricultural Biotechnology and Outreach
The Food and Drug Administration has scheduled two Agricultural Biotechnology Education and Outreach Initiative public meetings. The Agricultural Biotechnology Education and Outreach Initiative calls upon the FDA to work with the United States Department of Agriculture to provide consumer outreach and education through publication and distribution of science-based educational information on the environmental, nutritional, food safety, economic and humanitarian impacts of agricultural biotechnology.
The meetings will be on November 7 in Charlotte, North Carolina, and on November 14 in San Francisco, California. The meetings will address ag biotech education and communication efforts and are directed toward developing information regarding agricultural biotechnology and biotechnology-derived food products and animal feed. The meetings will also be available via webcast here.
Enter the 2017 National Sorghum Producers Yield Contest
Sorghum harvest is, or will soon be, underway for many. We pray for a safe and bountiful harvest for all of our sorghum growers and remind you to enter the National Sorghum Producers Yield Contest before beginning harvest. The NSP Yield Contest provides sorghum farmers with the opportunity to showcase your sorghum crop, competing with farmers across the Sorghum Belt. This contest allows our industry to recognize some of the best growers in the U.S. and helps farmers to grow and learn from one another.
Entry forms must be postmarked, emailed or faxed at least 10 days prior to harvest of the contest acreage. Harvest rules, a harvest report form, and a management information form will be mailed to the contestant as soon as the entry entry is received. All forms must be completed and in the NSP office no later than December 1. For more information, click here.
ATTENTION: College Students in Need of a Scholarship?
Applications for the National Sorghum Foundation-BASF Joint Scholarship are now open. The scholarship will include a tuition award for the 2018-2019 school year as well as cover recipients’ cost to attend the 2018 Commodity Classic in Anaheim, California. Applicants must be pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree in an agriculturally related curriculum. Students must be a child or grandchild of an NSP member, and undergraduates must be entering at least their second year of study by the 2018-2019 academic year.
By week’s end, 81 percent of this year’s sorghum was considered mature, eight percentage points behind last year and slightly behind the five-year average. Nationwide, sorghum producers had harvested 40 percent of the crop by October 15, 16 percentage points behind last year and 10 points behind the five-year average. Overall, 65 percent of the sorghum was reported in good to excellent condition, up slightly from last week but equal to the same time last year.
Export commitments were very strong this week with China and Mexico committing to purchase 4.7 million bushels of U.S. sorghum. This brings total commitments for the year to 58 million bushels, 28 percent of the USDA export target just six weeks into the marketing year. Shipments were also strong with China, South Korea and Mexico taking delivery of 1.8 million bushels and bringing total shipments for the year to 16 million bushels. At the current pace of deliveries, total U.S. shipments of sorghum to China since 2013 will reach 1 billion bushels by spring 2018. Basis continues to strengthen on these shipments with sorghum bids now equal to, and in some cases higher than, corn in central areas from Kansas to South Dakota. Gulf bids continue to increase as well with sorghum for December delivery trading at 121 percent of corn or $4.88 per bushel.
Sorghum in the Spotlight:
Sorghum Squeezing: Tasty Treat Made the Old-Fashioned Way – Times-Gazette
FFA Project Turns into Commercial Operation, Poorhouse Sorghum – RFD-TV
Real Food Right Now and How to Cook It: Sorghum – EcoCentric
DuPont Pioneer, Danforth Plant Science Center Collaborate – Feedstuffs
Growing Sorghum’s Customer Base – KGNC
Chefs Get Hands-On Education on Harvesting Sorghum at Muddy Pond – Knoxville News Sentinel
Upcoming Sorghum Events
Oct. 21-24 Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo, Chicago, IL
Nov. 8-9 NAFB Trade Talk, Kansas City, MO
Nov. 14-17 NSP Board of Directors Meeting, Lubbock, TX
Nov. 23-24 NSP & USCP Offices closed for Thanksgiving
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.
Sign Up to Receive the Sorghum Checkoff e-Newsletter
Sorghum producers can also receive monthly e-newsletters from the United Sorghum Checkoff Program. To receive monthly news and information regarding the Sorghum Checkoff’s efforts in sorghum research, education and market development, sign up here. You can also follow the Sorghum Checkoff on Twitter @SorghumCheckoff, on Facebook and Instagram @SorghumCheckoff.