Texas Sorghum Insider

April 9, 2013

Young Farmer Grants – The Texas Agricultural Finance Authority (TAFA) Board has announced they have $150,000 available in Young Farmer Grants to expand or enhance agricultural production in Texas. The grants are available to agricultural producers at least 18 but less than 46 years old. An original, signed application must be received in the offices of the Texas Department of Agriculture by 5:00 p.m., Friday, May 3. No electronic, incomplete or late applications will be considered. The grants received under this program may be used to provide operating expenses such as seed, fertilizer and fuel. Funds can also be used to purchase livestock, feed, and associated costs which may include lease of land and any other operating oats associated with agriculture operation. Capital purchases that exceed $5,000 will not be eligible. Complete program information and the application is available by visiting the Young Farmer Grants website. The TAFA Board will review the applications and the grants will be awarded at their next board meeting in July. At their last board meeting, the board awarded 16 Young Farmer Grants.

2013 USDA Sorghum Predictions – The recent report from USDA (March 2013) predicts sorghum planted acres across the nation to be up from 6.244 million in 2012 to 7.620 million acres in 2013. USDA also predicted Texas sorghum acres to be up from 2.3 million in 2012 to 3 million in 2013. If the predictions ring true, Texas will become the number one sorghum producing state in the nation, surpassing Kansas with an estimated 2.9 million acres; however, if the drought keeps lingering actual production numbers will be a lot lower. The state with the largest increase in acres is predicted to be Missouri with a jump from 65,000 acres to 110,000 acres. The only states showing a decrease in acreage from 2012 are Arizona, Mississippi ,and South Dakota. Corn acres across the nation are expected to stay about the same at 97.28 million acres, with a slight jump in Texas from 1.85 million to 2.1 million acres. Wheat is close to 2012 at 56.44 million acres, and is expected to have the same amount of acres in the state this year. Upland cotton is projected to go down from 12.077 million acres in 2012 to a staggering 9.82 million in 2013. This is a large decrease from the previous years. Texas is expected to plant a million less acres of upland cotton in 2013, than the previous year.

U.S. Sorghum Exports Have Large Competitor in South America – Agrimoney released a report that due to the high international prices of corn, Mexico has shifted to using sorghum in their feed rations. While Mexico is finding alternatives to corn, this will reduce Mexican corn imports this season to a seven-year low of 7.70m tonnes – 800,00 tonnes below the USDA’s official estimate. Although corn imports are decreasing, sorghum imports will reach 2.50m tonnes this season – 700,000 tonnes above the USDA estimate. It is projected this number will increase in 2013-14 to an 11-year high of 3.05 m tonnes. Although sorghum is being imported, it isn’t all coming from the U.S. Much of the sorghum imported into Mexico is coming from South America, mostly from Argentina due to more affordable prices. Mexico began searching for alternatives after last year’s Midwest drought troubled the U.S. surplus of grain amounts. Mexico has been the nation’s top sorghum buyer for many years. Mexico has begun to do risk analysis on buying grains from Argentina. TGSP will continue to promote and educate Mexico’s buyers that our sorghum crop is a quality alternative to other crops and countries.

Vela Blasting Agencies About Water Owed from Mexico – Freshmen U.S. House Representative Filemon Vela, of the 34th District in Texas, is battling the U.S. State Department on water owed to the U.S. from Mexico. Vela told the Brownsville Herald “they don’t give a damn about South Texas,” in a letter response he received from the State Department that didn’t mention if or when Mexico will deliver water to the U.S. under the 1944 Water Treaty with Mexico. The letter, dated April 1, only states the State Department has “brought together agencies to discuss solutions and that they remain hopeful a solution will be forthcoming in a timely manner.” Vela (D-Brownsville) said the State Department’s letter “has not been helpful” in addressing his concerns or addressing the concerns of the communities in the U.S. and the farmers in South Texas. Under the 1944 water sharing treaty between Mexico and the U.S., Mexico is to deliver water to the U.S. in cycles of five years. The current five-year cycle began in October 2010 and ends in October 2015; this means Mexico has until October 2015 to deliver the water. Federal, state county and local leaders said the water is needed now due to the ongoing severe drought in Texas. In addition, the leaders said Mexico is to deliver a minimum annual average of 350,000 acre-feet during a five-year cycle except in the event of extraordinary drought or serious accident affecting Mexico’s conveyance system. Carlos Rubinstein, commissioner of the TCEQ, is also bashing the State Department stating, “the State Department does not seem to recognize, or worse, chooses to ignore, the seriousness of the issue in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.” Five other South Texas congressional members sent a letter on March 13 reminding the State Department that the U.S. had provided water to Mexico on 17 separate occasions as a gesture of goodwill at the expense of the U.S. users.