Texas Sorghum Insider

May 30, 2012

Grain Sorghum Inches Closer to Becoming an Advanced Biofuel – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently issued a notice of data availability (NODA) concerning renewable fuels produced from grain sorghum under the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) program. The National Sorghum Producers (NSP) has worked for over two years with EPA to get grain sorghum listed as an advanced biofuel which helps mandate plants to produce grain sorghum-based ethanol. EPA’s analysis shows grain sorghum has a greenhouse gas emissions reduction (GHG) of 32 percent when used to make ethanol at facilities that use natural gas. Also according to EPA, when grain sorghum is used to make ethanol at facilities that use biogas digesters in combination with heat and power technology, it achieves a lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions reduction of 53 percent which qualifies it as an advanced biofuel under the RFS. The NODA will have a 30-day comment period and NSP will be submitting comments to the EPA. For more information please contact NSP at (806) 749-3478.

USDA Moves Forward with Office Consolidation – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced its decision to move forward to consolidate Farm Service Agency (FSA) county offices. FSA will consolidate 125 of the 131 offices originally proposed for consolidation with other USDA service centers that are consistent with the 2008 Farm Bill. The process is listed under USDA’s Blueprint for Stronger Service which modernizes and accelerates service delivery while improving the customer experience through innovative technologies and business solutions. The Blueprint also includes a plan to close or consolidate 259 domestic offices including the FSA offices, additional facilities and labs, and seven foreign offices. The two criteria that USDA followed in deciding which offices will be closed were 1) identified FSA offices located less than 20 miles from another FSA office that had two or fewer permanent, full-time employees and 2) all FSA offices with zero permanent employees regardless of location. Public meetings and comments were then held in the affected counties and USDA found that 6 of the original 131 proposed offices did not meet the criteria for consolidation, and are not included in the final plan. FSA will provide farmers and ranchers with consolidated offices the opportunity to choose the most convenient neighboring county office to conduct future business and all employees in closing offices will be provided an opportunity to continue their work with FSA. The Texas FSA offices that are required to consolidate include the following counties:  Andrews, Cass, Delta, Hutchison, Lee, Midland, Mills, Roberts, Rusk, San Augustine, Shelby, Upshur, Val Verde, Van Zandt and Waller.

Syngenta Settles Atrazine Litigation – Syngenta and attorneys for several community water systems have agreed to settle litigation related to the herbicide atrazine in order to avoid the business uncertainty and expense of protracted litigation. Syngenta acknowledges no liability and continues to stand by the safety of atrazine. The scientific evidence still makes clear that no one ever has or ever could be exposed to enough atrazine in the water to affect their health. The plaintiffs acknowledged they do not know of any new scientific studies relating to the safety of atrazine. The proposed settlement requires court approval and water systems joining the class will be eligible for payments from a $105 million settlement funded by Syngenta. Syngenta notes that the settlement is good for the company and the farmers who depend on atrazine, as well as their retailers, distributors, partners, and others who have been inconvenienced by this litigation. The litigation began almost eight years ago when a group of comity water systems claimed that Syngenta should pay to filter atrazine from their water supplies. Atrazine benefits American farmers by up to $3.3 billion and supports up to 85,000 American jobs related to farming while helping protect the environment and critical wildlife habitat by reducing soil erosion by up to 85 million tons each year. There is no substitute for atrazine which is a critical weed control product used in grain sorghum and other crops and is used in more than 60 countries.