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NSP president calls for sorghum profitability in next farm bill

Agriculture.com Staff 11/14/2006 @ 2:42pm

National Sorghum Producers (NSP) President Greg Shelor of Minneola, Kansas, participated in a farm bill panel discussion this week at the Kansas Commodity Classic held in Salina.

In his remarks, Shelor shared how NSP is working to ensure sorghum's profitability. He said NSP is focusing in four areas: farm policy, energy, technology and water.

"NSP will work with the 110th Congress to implement higher crop insurance price elections for sorghum and fine-tune the marketing loan system so that county loan rates are more reflective of true local market conditions," Shelor said. "With drought and water availability impacting producers, NSP is encouraging Congress to recognize sorghum's water-sipping characteristics in the Conservation Title of the 2007 farm bill."

Farm policy changes over the last 20 years have impacted sorghum plantings. But with ethanol plants being built across the Sorghum Belt, many producers are starting to look at sorghum again. Grain sorghum yields the same amount of ethanol as corn. Other sorghums may also help the U.S. become more energy-independent. Shelor said that more research dollars are needed to look at alternative renewable feedstocks like sorghum.

"NSP has been meeting with Members of Congress to convey that sorghum is much more than just starch to ethanol. In China and India, sweet sorghums are used routinely in ethanol production. Sweet sorghum has about the same sugar content as sugarcane and can be efficiently converted into ethanol," Shelor said. "Biomass sorghum, currently used by cattle feeders and dairy producers in the U.S, makes a great feedstock for cellulose ethanol because of the brown midrib trait in some forage sorghums that contributes to a lower amount of lignin.

"In addition, these sorghums yield up to 40 tons per acre translating into more gallons of ethanol per acre while utilizing less water than other feedstocks."

Shelor told participants that the National Grain Sorghum Producers Foundation is working with state sorghum commissions and associations as well as public institutions and private industry to expand technology available for sorghum. Over-the-top-grass and weed control remains a priority and once in the field, will help ensure sorghum's profitability for producers.

He also said that water will continue to be a critical issue and that U.S. conservation policy needs to reward crops like sorghum that provide "more crop per drop."

National Sorghum Producers (NSP) President Greg Shelor of Minneola, Kansas, participated in a farm bill panel discussion this week at the Kansas Commodity Classic held in Salina.

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