Texas Sorghum Insider

December 18, 2017

Filing Deadline Passes for Texas Candidates—Evening on Monday, December 11 marked the end of the one month period in which candidates for Texas offices – from statewide elected officials to state lawmakers to congressional members – must formally file the paperwork to be on the ballot in the 2018 elections. Controversies over elected officials’ misconduct and a staunchly partisan political environment resulted in a large number of candidates pursuing offices across the state and in Washington.

The Democratic Party is running candidates for all 36 Texas congressional seats, 14 of the 15 state Senate seats, and 133 of the 150 state House seats, as well as ten candidates in the Democratic primary for Governor. Across the statewide races, some late noteworthy additions were:

  • Former Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson announced he would be challenging George P. Bush for his old office
  • 2014 Texas Agriculture Commissioner Democratic nominee Jim Hogan announced he would be joining Austin-based lobbyist Trey Blocker in a Republican primary challenge to incumbent Sid Miller

Only two Texas statewide officials, Comptroller Glenn Hegar and Attorney General Ken Paxton, did not draw any primary opponents.

Although it is difficult for most of these Democratic challengers to win statewide elections, many of the Republican primaries are expected to be contentious. One race that is particularly important will be the 27th Congressional District, now that incumbent Blake Farenthold announced he would no longer seek reelection following a series of sexual harassment accusations. Former Texas Water Development Board Chairman Bech Bruun is the most notable challenger in what is shaping up to be a crowded Republican primary race for the seat.  

Below is a link to a spreadsheet compiled by Texas Tribune reporter Patrick Svitek that documents every seat (state and congressional) and the candidates who formally filed to run for them. If you are interested or involved in races in your area, or have questions about the races that TGSA is monitoring closest, please reach out to Patrick Wade at Patrick@texassorghum.org.

2018 Candidates – Filed

Dicamba Update—Dicamba tolerant cotton and soybean varieties were brought to the market in 2015 and 2016, respectively, and were followed in 2017 by the newly registered dicamba herbicides formulated specifically to have lower volatility.  Following a challenging launch in 2017 of these newly registered herbicides in some states, the EPA worked with companies registering the new dicamba formulations to make revisions to those product labels in an effort to reduce incidence of off-target movement during application.  In mid-October, revised labels for XtendiMax® with VaporGrip® Technology, Fexapan Plus VaporGrip® Technology, and Engenia® herbicide were approved and released by the EPA and the corresponding companies, Monsanto, DuPont and BASF, respectively.

Notable revisions include the addition of new restrictions as well as clarifications to previous label language.  New restrictions include the following:

  1. Classification of these three products as Restricted Use Pesticides
  2. Required record keeping of all applications for 2 years
  3. Annual mandatory auxin-specific training for every person that will be applying the product to any crop.

While restricted use classification and record keeping are currently in effect for these products in Texas, the mandatory auxin-specific training for all applicators is a new change that applies to not only those with an applicators license but also to those making applications under someone else’s license.  This requires awareness for all applicators to ensure their ability to use these herbicides in 2018 and in subsequent years.

Clarifications to label language include but are not limited to what qualifies as a “susceptible” or “sensitive” crop, requiring the use of downwind buffers, clarification around temperature inversions and restricting the application time to only include sunrise to sunset, tightening the windspeed window from 3-15mph down to 3-10mph, and amplifying the language on sprayer cleanout to prevent cross-contamination.

The Texas Department of Agriculture has approved the auxin-specific herbicide training for applicators that will be provided through Texas A&M AgriLife Extension and Allied Industry. This training aims to educate applicators on the requirements and practices for keeping these dicamba based products on-target and will satisfy the newly mandated auxin-specific training requirement.

Trainings started the first week of December and will be delivered in various 2017/2018 winter meetings and via video presentation(s) by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, BASF, and Monsanto.  The specific times and locations of these training opportunities will be announced over the next months.  Please contact your local County Extension Office for available training in your area. This article first appeared in Texas Row Crop Newsletter

Charles Ray Huddleston Sworn in as USCP Board Member—Five Sorghum Checkoff board directors were sworn in during the December 13, 2017, board meeting in Lubbock, Texas.

Returning to the board are Verity Ulibarri of McAlister, New Mexico, and Carlton Bridgeforth of Tanner, Alabama. Newly appointed to the board are Klint G. Stewart, of Columbus, Nebraska; Shayne C. Suppes of Scott City, Kansas; and Charles Ray Huddleston of Celina, Texas.

The newly sworn in board members were appointed by the U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue in December and will serve a three-year term.

“We are pleased to welcome both the new and returning directors to the Sorghum Checkoff,” said Sorghum Checkoff Executive Director Florentino Lopez. “The board of directors are crucial in our efforts to create producer profitability, expand market opportunities and increase demand for sorghum, and we look forward to working with the appointed board of directors in creating success for our farmers.”

Ag Census In Progress –The USDA Census of Agriculture conducts a comprehensive analysis of all U.S. farms and ranches every five years. The 2017 census is an opportunity for producers, researchers, policy makers and others to have consistent, impartial information that impacts the future of agriculture. Important trends that shape farm programs and other agricultural developments are justified by the census data. As Congress creates the 2018 Farm Bill the upcoming census data will provide insight to the changes in the U.S. farm economy. The USDA began sending surveys earlier this month and expects to collect responses by Feb. 5. Read more about the 2017 Census of Agriculture here

Export Report—Export sales were very strong again last week with China and South Korea committing to purchase 12.5 million bushels. These commitments bring total sales to 141 million bushels or 54 percent of the new USDA export target (in the latest World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report, USDA raised this target to 260 million bushels from 210 million bushels). Shipments were also strong with China, Mexico and South Korea taking delivery of 4.0 million bushels. Total shipments now stand at 52.7 million bushels. Basis remained strong with Gulf bids at 121 percent of corn or $4.84 per bushel. Interior basis continues to firm as well, and central Kansas terminal bids (March delivery) stand at 111 percent of corn or $3.28 per bushel.

Merry Christmas 
Texas Sorghum staff wishes you and yours a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year! We are grateful for the producers, colleagues and members we are able to call friends!