Texas Sorghum Insider

June 8, 2016

Texas Sorghum to Host China Trade Team— A U.S. Grains Council (USGC) trade team of high-volume Chinese sorghum buyers will be in Texas June 27-30 as part of a tour aimed at further developing and strengthening relationships between Chinese sorghum buyers and U.S. suppliers. Members of the team were hand-selected by USGC staff in China and represent organizations that purchased 98 million bushels of China’s total U.S. sorghum imports in the last marketing year. Total commitments to China this marketing year are 260 million bushels with 230 million bushels delivered as of May 26. The team will travel through Central Texas and the Coast making stops near Austin, Odem and Houston. If you would like to meet with the team, please contact Katelyn Luckett, katelyn@texassorghum.org for more information.

EPA Releases Atrazine Risk Assessment—This week, the EPA published its draft ecological assessment in the Federal Register. EPA will be accepting comments until August 5, 2016. After receiving and reviewing public comments, the agency will amend the assessments, as appropriate, the EPA said in a statement. Texas Sorghum will be working closely with National Sorghum Producers to seek input from our grower community, please be on the look out for our call to actions and respond accordingly.

Water Hearing in Austin—On Wednesday June 1, the Texas House of Representatives committee on Natural Resources met to hear public testimony on three interim charges pertaining to water rights and development projects. Although presently Texas is drenched with rainfall, this hearing was intended to address initiatives enacted during the drought of record in 2011 and potential recourses for inevitable future water shortages. Provided testimonies ranged from regulatory agency updates to regional planning group assessments on statutory changes made by past legislatures.

The interim charges on the table Wednesday were broad in nature, primarily asking for legislative oversight on 2015 legislation, joint groundwater planning progress, and ongoing reevaluations of the entire regional and state water planning process. The discussion of agriculture issues was cursory but still respectful of the enormous shadow our industry casts on water planning. Witnesses frequently cited the importance of providing for agriculture and for a healthy regional/statewide balance when crafting water plans.

A large majority of the testimonies were positive and constructive and members were open-handed in their praise for existing water plans and the analysts who construct them. That is not to suggest, however, that all witnesses shied away from criticizing certain elements of the planning and regulatory process. An official from Region A Water Planning Group floated the idea of switching to 10 year regional plans instead of the existing 5 year plans. Bob Harden of the Texas Alliance of Groundwater Owners and Producers censured groundwater districts who illegitimately inverted the planning process by first defining groundwater availability and then constructing models. Mr. Harden alleged that this practice allows entities to regulate “county-by-county” instead of the proper, more broad measures.

This was not the first interim hearing about water rights nor will it be the last. As we draw closer to regular session we will be reaching out to some of our delegate body regarding opportunities to attend hearings and testify about sorghum’s story. I encourage you to read the full list of the House of Representatives interim charges here and reach out to Patrick Wade if you have any comments.