Texas Sorghum Insider

October 10, 2014

2014 Farm Bill & APH Issue – The 2014 Farm Bill requires USDA to provide immediate relief by allowing producers to elect to exclude any yield from their APH database in years where the yield of their county or an adjacent county was 50% lower than the 10-year average. In short, the provision of the law eliminates the double deductible effect the drought has worked on a producers’ APH and, in turn, on the amount of coverage that the producers is able to purchase. USDA has announced that they will administratively delay the provision (which was passed into law on February 7th) for two-years. The Southwest Council of Agribusiness (SWCA) recently sent a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack urging him to reconsider the Department’s two-year delay, and instead to implement this provision in time for the 2015 crop year. Click here to view SWCA’s letter. Members of Congress also need to hear from YOU!  Please call or email the person who handles agriculture for your Member of Congress and urge them to reach out to USDA to carry out the law. Click here to contact your local congressman via the web. To read more about how this delay will impact agriculture, click here to view an article by DTN addressing this issue.

SXSW ECO Exposes the “other side” of Agriculture – The South by Southwest Eco (SXSW ECO) Conference was recently held in Austin and featured a number of “Agricultural” programs. In particular were panels that included “How To Feed 9 Billion People” (coincidentally it included nothing about effective government farm programs), “”What’s the Buzz on Bees” and “GMO’s – The Hype, The Hope, The Science”. Of note to the conference, in spite of a $395 registration fee, was the sheer number of young “activists” that attended the various sessions dealing with agriculture. While each seminar addressed a number of issues, it was clear, the large number of attendees were very outspoken against any chemical, antibiotic and GMO usage on the farm. Each of the seminars was standing room only and participant questions quickly turned into diatribes about mainstream agriculture. Producer perspectives were generally limited to smaller urban farmers and one session dealing with GMO’s was even sponsored by Mother Jones News while a SXSW employee criticized a major chemical company for paying for producers to attend the very same meeting. Despite the sessions being very limited in scientific review, the dairy panel included a very real perspective of organic farms and the very viable notion that we will never feed 9 billion people with organic farms but need to keep them strong, as markets still drive production and $35/cwt milk (as compared to regular market price of $15/cwt) is not sustainable to world consumers. One member of the panel (with one producer owning an impressive 20,000 head of organic milk cattle and managing 38,000 acres of land) also implied that GMO’s, in the future, could be a part of organic farms as science has yet to prove any detrimental data, which seemed to stun the crowd. Despite any leanings on how to farm, the growing concern that there is another side of agriculture that is very young, well financed, has time to commit, and does not prescribe to modern farming methods or programs should be on the minds of every grower in the nation.

Sorghum Checkoff Board Appointments – USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced on Oct. 3rd the appointments of five members to serve on the United Sorghum Checkoff Program (USCP) board of directors. Appointed members will serve three-year terms. The growers appointed to the board are:  Adam Baldwin of Kansas; John Dvoracek of Nebraska; Dale Murden of Monte Alto, Texas; Billy Bridgeforth of Alabama (at-large); and Verity Ulibarri of New Mexico (at-large). The board is structured so that the state with the largest production is allocated five positions, the state with the second largest gets three positions, and the third largest gets one position. There are also four at-large national positions for which at least two representatives must be appointed from states other than the top three sorghum producing states which are already allotted a specific number of positions.

2014 Sorghum Variety Trials Test Results – There were some outstanding trials in 2014 completed by Texas A&M AgriLife Research & Extension. Results from 2014 are currently posted from trials in College Station, Danevang, Gregory, Hill County, Hondo, Monte Alto, and Thrall. To view the 2014 trial results and previous test results from prior years, click here. The website will continually be updated with more results as harvest continues across the state.

Farm Bill Decision Aids & Dates to Know – Farmers will be facing huge decisions in the coming months that will affect their operations for the next four years. To aid farmers in those decisions, USDA’s FSA has funded a couple of Farm Bill Decision Aids that are now available on the web. A duo effort from Texas A&M University’s Ag & Food Policy Center (AFPC) and the University of Missouri’s Food & Ag Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) decision aid tool can be found by clicking here. The University of Illinois also released the Agriculture Policy Analysis System (APAS) which can be found here. To view more information and other links to specific areas, click here. FSA has also released a FAQ website to help answer questions pertaining to the new programs – click here.
Also if you haven’t already heard, USDA announced the key dates for farmers regarding the new programs in the 2014 Farm Bill – Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC). Important dates include:

  • Sept. 29, 2014 – Feb. 27, 2015  ::  Reallocate Base Acres & Update Yields – Land owners may update their yield history and/or reallocate base acres at their local FSA office.
  • Nov. 17, 2014 – March 31, 2015  ::  ARC/PLC Election – Growers can make a one-time election of either ARC or PLC for the 2014 through 2018 crop years.
  • Mid-April, 2015 – Summer, 2015  ::  ARC/PLC Enrollment – Growers can sign contracts for 2014 and 2015 crop years.
  • Oct., 2015  ::  2014 Payments – Payments for the 2014 crop year will be made if needed.

Sorghum Recipes

This is the first recipe in a new series we will begin running in our newsletter that will feature recipes that can be made with sorghum. Food sorghum is a healthy grain that is gaining popularity. We encourage you to take a look at the recipes, make them with your families or share these recipes with others. Wayne Cleveland, Executive Director of TGSP, will be showcasing food sorghum for Scott and White next week for 100 people where he will be using sorghum flour to make pancakes.

Sorghum Pancakes
2 cups sorghum flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sugar
¾ tsp salt
1 T corn oil
3 eggs
2 cups buttermilk
Combine dry ingredients.
Stir in eggs, oil and buttermilk and mix well.
Drop by spoonfuls onto a hot, 375 degree griddle until golden brown.
Flip once during cooking.
Recipe makes about 20 four-inch pancakes.