Sorghum Notes

Trump Directs Tariffs on Chinese Goods
In an expected move, President Trump issued a directive Thursday to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to impose tariffs on approximately $60 billion worth of Chinese goods under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, further placing U.S. producers on edge in fear of retaliation measures by the Chinese government that will further complicate the promotion and sale of U.S. agriculture products.

U.S. sorghum producers are already facing a difficult retaliatory situation as a the first U.S. commodity investigated as part of this larger picture with the anti-dumping and countervailing duty investigations into imports of U.S. sorghum launched by China in February, and National Sorghum Producers and our industry stakeholders remain actively engaged in these cases. There is undoubtedly a lot of uncertainty related to trade with China in this current environment, and NSP continues to work to not allow our members to be harmed and will provide information to our growers as it becomes available.

Farm Bill Update 
Farm bill action this week stayed focused on different positions relating to nutrition title provisions. While this is not new to farm bill politics, both parties seem to be measures apart from reaching an agreement. Without a bipartisan agreement the House bill will likely require 218 Republican votes to pass.

Omnibus Spending Bill Passes House, Heads to Senate
Yesterday the U.S. House of Representatives released its omnibus spending bill, and the $1.3 trillion spending packaged passed the House today 256-167. The bill will need to pass in the Senate by midnight Friday in order to avert a government shutdown. The FY 2018 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill contains $146.1 billion in discretionary and mandatory funding. Discretionary funding totals $23.259 billion and the remaining $122.8 billion is appropriated for mandatory funding. Additionally, $140.6 million was appropriated for ARS buildings and facilities, representing a $41 million increase from the FY 2017 enacted levels. The bill also provides research funding increases for sorghum under ARS. The agreement also provides $353.314 million for Advanced Research Projects Agency –Energy (ARPA-E). Funding under this program has helped improved sorghum genetics research and generate data that allow breeders to pinpoint genes that improve yield and drought resistance.

199A Fix Included in Omnibus Bill 
The revised language for 199A will balance taxes of commodity sales to cooperatives and non-co-ops. Deductions for cooperative members will look similar to the previous Section 199 deduction. Farmers selling to co-ops can claim a 20 percent deduction income, and there will be limits set on those with high incomes or capital gains.

Secretary Perdue Releases Statement on Omnibus Spending Bill 
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue issued the following statement regarding the omnibus spending bill released by Congressional leaders.

“Finally, the omnibus clears away red tape for participants in conservation programs by exempting them from having to obtain SAM and DUNS numbers. These were designed for billion-dollar government contractors, not every day farmers trying to support their families. I thank Congressional leaders and I look forward to passage of the omnibus containing these extremely important provisions and other items supporting rural America and agriculture.”

NSP Accepting Applications for Board of Directors
The nominating committee for National Sorghum Producers will begin the process of accepting applications to serve on the board of directors. Candidates for the board of directors must be a member of the National Sorghum Producers and have a passion for working on behalf of sorghum growers through lobbying activities and fundraising. The NSP board is not limited to growers. If you have an interest in participating at the board of directors’ level, applications will be accepted until 5:00 p.m. on May 11, 2018. Please contact the office if you have any questions at 800-658-9808.

Office of Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation Gets Approved 
USDA was given the go ahead to set up the office of Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation. The new position will be appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. Under the provisions, current Undersecretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Bill Northey will not have to go through the nomination process again.

NSP Celebrates National Ag Day
National Sorghum Producers observed National Ag Day on Tuesday. National Ag Day, supported by the Agriculture Council of America, is dedicated to increasing consumer engagement with the industry. NSP would like to thank all farmers for their efforts in feeding and clothing the world, building strong communities and keeping the American economy strong.

Sorghum Foundation Scholarships Now Available
The Sorghum Foundation has three scholarships available for college students studying agriculture for the 2018-2019 school year. The scholarships include $1,500 to be applied toward one semester of tuition expenses. All applications are due June 1, 2018. For more information and applications click here.

Sorghum in the Spotlight:
National Commodity Groups Discuss Policy at Classic – High Plains Journal
Herbicide Considerations Before Planting – KGNC
National Sorghum Foundation Offers Scholarships – Kiowa County Press
Sorghum Sees Research Breakthroughs, New Markets in 2017 – World Grain

Upcoming Sorghum Events
March 23     Oklahoma Sorghum Association & Commission Board Meeting – Oklahoma City, OK
March 30     NSP Office closed in observance of Good Friday
April 9-13     International Sorghum Conference – Cape Town, South Africa

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.