Texas Sorghum Insider

January 29, 2014

House Passes Farm Bill – The Agricultural Act of 2014, also known as the Farm Bill, was approved today by the United States House of Representatives on a vote of 251 to 166. The approval comes after a lengthy five-year process of debate. The bill was whipped, where it was a first time in a long time, if not the only time, that the GOP leadership whipped the Farm Bill. After long hours of coming to an agreement in the conference committee, the House and Senate finally agreed on all of the legal language. Now that the Farm Bill has passed the House, it will go to the Senate where it hopefully passes there, and then to the final passage at the White House where it will hopefully be signed into law. The bill saves taxpayers $24 billion and provides policy certainty for rural American. The National Sorghum Producers, who has worked diligently on this bill, is a win for the sorghum industry. They noted that it does no harm to crop insurance and, in fact, strengthens the crop insurance. It offers farmers a choice of risk management options under the Commodity Title, including price loss coverage and agriculture risk coverage. Both options contain real price protection for farmers. Pay limits, eligibility requirements, and AGI limits are workable for full-time farm families. Conservation policies, including EQIP and CSP, are consolidated and streamlined but remain strong and adequately funded. It provides authorization and mandatory funding in the Energy Title for key advanced biofuel policies. The Trade, Credit, Rural Development, Research, Forestry, Energy, and Horticulture titles are similarly retained and adequately funded, with provisions promoting lower electricity costs for rural consumers – bipartisan reforms to Food Stamps are included that establish work requirements for able-bodied adults without kids, and the “heat and eat” and other loopholes in Food Stamps are closed. We thank NSP and all of the many agricultural organizations who put in the effort to make this happen. NSP and TGSA submitted letters of support to House Representatives yesterday. Stay tuned for the vote in the Senate.

TGSA Board Elections – The 2013 TGSA elections came to a close in December and new board members were seated by proxy at the board meeting last month. Danny Krienke a producer from Perryton resumes the producer seat in the North District, Warren Mayberry of DuPont/Pioneer in Austin resumes the at-large seat in the Central District, and Brian McCuistion of Planters Grain Coop in Odem resumes the at-large seat in the South District. Since there were no contested seats on any of the races, the President of TGSA made the motion to elect the board members by proxy while the full board had a majority vote to elect the board members in. The elected board members will serve a three-year term and will join the other six board members from across the state. TGSA consists of a total of nine board members from three districts; two producers and an at-large sat are represented from each district.

USCP Board Members & Sorghum Investments – In November Secretary Vilsack announced the appointment of four members to serve on the USCP Board of Directors. Producers appointed to the board, and that were sworn in at the December USCP board meeting are:  Danny Krienke of Perryton, Texas, Martin Kerschen of Garden Plain, Kan., Clayton Short of Assaria, Kan., and one at-large member, Kathy Brorman of Hereford, Texas. Appointed members will serve a three-year term. Dale Artho of Wildorado, Texas and Troy Skarke of Claude, Texas had their final board meeting as board members after fulfilling two terms. A special thanks goes out to these guys for their tireless efforts and commitment to the sorghum industry. Both of these gentlemen remain active on the Texas Association and Board. Also at the December board meeting, USCP board of directors, invested $1.85 million to fund proposals targeted at furthering sorghum growers’ productivity and profitability. The Sorghum Checkoff board, external committee members and staff dedicated several months to reviewing projects in the crop improvement, high value, and renewable priority areas. USCP received 86 requested totaling $16.8 million dollars. The approved projects focused on new genetic introduction, food development, livestock nutrition, companion animal industry development, biofuels enhancement, and coproduct enhancement. Some of the organizations who are lead investigators in the projects included:  Kansas State University, University of Nebraska, USDA ARS, Agri-Tech Producers,  and Texas A&M AgriLife. The board will meet again in March.

Milo Insulation, LLC Grand Opening

Milo Insulation, LLC – This month, Milo Insulation, LLC held its grand opening in Tulia, Texas. The corporation is made up of 18 farmers and processors in Perryton, Dalhart, Pampa, Panhandle, Claude, Plainview, Wildorado, Tulia, McGregor, Temple, and Holland. The corporation was formed to primarily make natural plastic resin that can be extruded into insulation products out of sorghum. In addition to the insulation. The concept of Milo Insulation is to contract specific sorghum grain varieties with their growers before planting. They will then collect the contracted milo at the Tulia plant and it will go through a process to make it into a raw material. That raw material will then be shipped to a plant where it is extruded into insulation. The extruder pushes and stretches the raw milo and then finally puffs it up to create the insulation. A company in Dallas manufactures a special type of baked extruders that can produced the desired product lines. The milo insulation product will be affordable and superior to all alternative types of insulation except urethane foam which is excellent protection but very costly. Once the process is fully completed, the Tulia plant will supply the needs of the world in natural, green insulation products. Another product the plant produces after separating the raw material for the extrusion process, is a very powerful antioxidant powder. These materials have special uses in animal nutrition and after more research is done, hopefully for cancer fighting foods and medicines.

Water Conservation Symposium – The 2nd biennial Texas Panhandle-High Plains Water Conservation Symposium will be held Feb. 12 from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm in the Amarillo Civic Center North Exhibit Hall. The public is encouraged to attend and hear local, state, and national speakers discuss economic impacts of water conservation. The morning session includes topics such as funding opportunities following passage of Proposition 6, interim legislative charges for the next session, brackish groundwater use, aquifer storage/recovery, statewide perspectives of agricultural water conservation, and discussion of potential weather conditions in 2014. The afternoon breakout sessions will feature water conservation information in the agricultural, industrial and municipal sectors. The cost is $35 per person and includes lunch. Online registration and a full agenda is available at www.texaswater.org.

Commodity Classic in Texas – The annual Commodity Classic, featuring collaborative efforts from National Sorghum Producers, National Corn Growers Association, American Soybean Association, and National Association of Wheat Growers will be held in San Antonio, Texas on February 27, 2014 – March 1, 2014. The classic features several learning sessions of issues impacting agriculture, WIN (What Is New) sessions that showcase new products and ideas in agriculture, an engaging general session and one of the largest trade shows in the U.S. Over 6,000 people will attend classic every year. Sorghum will have its own session and the NSP will be having a PAC casino night to raise funds for legislative efforts. For more information, visit www.commodityclassic.com.