Sorghum Notes

National Sorghum Producers
The voice of the sorghum industry
Sorghum e-Notes | March 15, 2018
House Farm Bill Markup Delayed 
There will not be a farm bill markup next week. On Wednesday, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (R-TX) said he and Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-MN) need to arrive at an agreement regarding the Nutrition Program before moving forward. Democrats oppose stern work requirement changes that would alter the benefits for approximately 8 million recipients. The delay means the committee mark up will have to wait until after April 10 when Congress returns from a two-week recess. Further complicating the matter, late Thursday Agri-Pulse reported Democrats delivered a letter addressed to Peterson asking no further negotiations take place until members of the committee see the detailed legislative text.

Section 199A Fix Imminent 
Lawmakers have reached a tentative deal to correct unintended consequences of a provision of the new tax-reform law that benefits cooperatives. There remain concerns on whether the bill can be attached to the FY18 omnibus spending bill to be considered later this month. The current deduction, intended to mimic and replace the benefits of the repealed Section 199, gives farmers more generous deductions when they sell directly to co-ops rather than privily-held or investor-owned companies. The provision has resulted in a competitive imbalance impacting numerous agricultural value chain stakeholders, including grain handlers, feed mills, seed companies, ag retailers, biofuels producers, banks, livestock marketers and dairy processors. The new legislation is intended to restore the benefit of the old Section 199 while providing some of the additional benefits cooperatives received in Section 199A.

PRIA Reauthorization
Stopgap funding bills have kept the EPA’s fee-based Pesticide Registration Improvement Act in tact since Sept. 30 of last year. PRIA accounts for roughly one-third of the EPA Office of Pesticide Programs budget through manufacturers registration and maintenance fees. As the government deadline to pass an omnibus spending bill approaches there are still reauthorization concerns. The House agreed to reauthorize PRIA last year but the act has been held up in the Senate. Several Democrat Senators have introduced amendments to the bill that would alter the Agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS) and Certification of Pesticide Applicators (CPA) rules looking into the minimum age requirements.

USTR Confirms Gregg Doud
The U.S. Senate confirmed Kansas native Gregg Doud on March 1 to serve as chief agricultural negotiator at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. Doud’s confirmation comes to the agency during a pivotal time as trade tensions with China increase as well as other trade negotiations across the globe. There was strong bipartisan support during his hearing in the Senate Finance Committee.

Sorghum Scholarships Now Available 
Each year the National Sorghum Foundation offers several scholarship opportunities for college students to apply toward their tuition. The current sorghum scholarships available are the Bruce Maunder Sorghum Leadership Scholarship, the Darrell Rosenow Memorial Scholarship and the Sorghum Feed and Food Scholarship. Applicants for these scholarships should show commitment to a better future for agriculture and sorghum through their educational pursuits. There are different requirements for each. NSP encourages all qualified students to apply. For applications and more information click here.

NAFTA Trade Talk 
Mexico’s chief NAFTA negotiator, Kenneth Smith Ramos, said Wednesday he is ready to close more chapters in the next round of NAFTA talks, which is expected to be held next month in Washington. The goal is to close the seven chapters that are 90% complete and include telecommunications, digital trade, technical barriers to trade, energy, state-owned enterprises and financial services. Negotiators from the U.S., Mexico and Canada have closed six chapters and four sectoral annexes so far. Leaders from the three countries are optimistic a deal is near that will be a win for all three countries.

USDA Seeks Nominations for Sorghum Checkoff Board of Directors
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is seeking nominations for four vacancies on the Sorghum Checkoff board of directors. The vacancies available include one at-large producer position, two producer positions for Kansas and one producer position for Texas. Certified Producer Organizations can nominate eligible sorghum producers on the AMS website. For more information, see the full USDA announcement.

2018 Export Exchange Scheduled for October
The U.S. Grains Council (USGC), the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and Growth Energy will host the biennial Export Exchange on Oct. 22-24, in Minneapolis, MN. The event will focus on topics related to U.S. exports of sorghum, corn, barely, distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) and other agriculture products. Over 300 domestic and 200 international representatives are expected to join. For more information click here.

Sorghum in the Spotlight:
Cash Bids Higher for Sorghum – High Plains Journal
10 Year Anniversary – KGNC
U.S. Sorghum Growers Fear China’s Actions – Iowa Agribusiness Radio Network
Sorghum Checkoff Celebrates 10-Year Anniversary – High Plains Journal
The Secret to Tripling the Number of Grains in Sorghum – Grain Central
Outsmarting the Sugarcane Aphid, One Hybrid at a Time – The Progressive Farmer

Upcoming Sorghum Events
March 21     Colorado Sorghum Association Annual Meeting – Granada, CO
March 22     Colorado Sorghum Association Annual Meeting – Yuma, CO
March 23     Oklahoma Sorghum Association & Commission Board Meeting – Oklahoma City, OK
March 30     NSP Office closed in observance of Good Friday

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.