Texas Sorghum Insider

February 3, 2017

TGSA Participates in DC Fly-In—This week, sorghum producers from across the country attended the National Sorghum Producers annual fly-in to Washington D.C. TGSA staff Patrick Wade was joined by Texas Sorghum members Brittan Gruhlkey, Kody Carson, Danny Beyer, and Jason Franz, as well as Texans participating in NSP’s Leadership Sorghum program. Texas sorghum producers met with the Texas’s congressional delegation and their staff to discuss agriculture policies and help our lawmakers better understand the reality of farming in 2017. As Congress prepares to write the next Farm Bill, TGSA members took the opportunity to discuss which elements of crop insurance have been beneficial and where the safety net may have some holes. The Farm Bill was far from the only topic of discussion, though. Continued grievances with EPA regulations, concerns over export market instability, and the need for research dollars to combat the sugarcane aphid were amongst many other issues covered over the three days of meetings. All in all, members of the Texas delegation continue to be staunch advocates of Texas agriculture and TGSA is grateful to have representation in D.C. that keeps its doors open to producers. We look forward to continuing the conversations that were started this week as the 115th Congress progresses.

DC crew

2016 SCA Research FindingsSugarcane Aphid on Sorghum in South and Central Texas; research by: Michael Brewer, Research Entomologist (Corpus Christi, all sites coordination) (mbrewer@ag.tamu.edu); Robert Bowling, Extension Entomologist (Corpus Christi/outreach), Mo Way, Research Entomologist (Beaumont), Allen Knutson, Extension Entomologist (Taylor, Hillsboro/outreach), Levi Russell, Extension Ag. Economics, (outreach), Mac Young, Extension Economics Program Specialist (outreach); Stephen Biles, IPM Agent (Port Lavaca/outreach), John Gordy, Ag. County Agent (Rosenberg/outreach)
Commercial hybrids vary in response to aphids and aphid abundance varies as well. Our two questions addressed were 1) whether ‘R’ (referred to as either tolerant or partially resistant) hybrids were verified under season-long growing conditions and exposure to sugarcane aphid experienced in Texas, and 2) whether adjusting thresholds upward for the ‘R’ hybrids is appropriate (that is, they yield better than susceptible ‘S’ hybrid comparators when exposed to natural populations of sugarcane aphid but the ‘R’ hybrid still needs to be protected at some higher sugarcane aphid pressure that may occur in Texas)? At three locations (Corpus Christi, Rosenberg, and Gainesville), resistance in five sorghum hybrids designated by seed companies as “highly tolerant” to sugarcane aphid (SCA) was compared. Suspected ‘R’ (partially resistant) sorghum entries included SP7715 (Sorghum Partners), BH4100 (B&H Genetics), and DKS37-07 and DKS48-07 (Monsanto). Two SCA susceptible hybrids, DKS38-88 and DKS53-67 (Monsanto), also were included in this trial. All hybrids had Concep III (Syngenta) and fungicide seed treatments. To obtain a range of aphid pressure, Sivanto (4 oz/ac) was sprayed by ground rig when aphids reached 50, 125, 300 SCA per leaf. One additional treatment of an unsprayed control allowed aphids to increase naturally. The spray and hybrid treatment combinations were replicated four times. Measurements included weekly aphid counts on 20 leaves total (10 top and 10 bottom leaves). Leaf injury was taken weekly and yield was taken. The peak aphid load was compared across hybrids and a yield—maximum aphid load regression was done. Moderate to high aphid pressure, good growing conditions, and initial aphid infestations occurring before boot stage were experienced in the three locations. Selected ‘R’ hybrids (SP7715, BH4100, DKS37-07 and DKS48-07) maintained aphid densities below 100 aphids per leaf with no leaf injury at Corpus Christi. At Rosenberg where aphid pressure was greatest, BH4100 and SP7715 had peak aphid populations at 300 aphids per leaf, and DKS4807 and DKS3707 had peak aphid populations at 200 aphids per leaf. No yield loss was detected. The two ‘S’ comparators (DKS 5367 and DKS3888) had peak aphid populations as high as 500 aphid per leaf, but little yield decline was detected under the excellent growing conditions in Rosenberg.

Guidance on use of partially resistant hybrids.
Well timed application(s) of an insecticide can protect high yielding aphid susceptible hybrids from economically damaging populations of sugarcane aphid when using an economic threshold of 50 aphids per leaf. Essential in using this strategy is to scout fields for aphids on at least a weekly basis and spray within a few days of exceeding threshold. The scouting card and insecticide use guidelines produced with support from the Board helps guide this effort. For those considering growing commercial ‘tolerant’ hybrids, current season-long research confirms that most but not all of these hybrids express partial protection of plants from sugarcane aphid. With these first year results, we are able to provide initial guidance on adjusting thresholds upward for
these hybrids, under the
good growing
conditions we
experienced in three
locations. For these
hybrids, adjustment of 
thresholds to a level at 
or above the ET in the 
right ‘Adjusted ET’
column was supported. We advise additional
testing at and above
these levels to verify 
this work and obtain
 more specific values 
under a range of
 growing conditions 
and locations.

Screen Shot 2017-02-03 at 3.12.31 PM

*If you would like to review the entire study including planting dates/conditions please email Katelyn Luckett, katelyn@texassorghum.org.

Export Report—Exports continued to strengthen after the holiday break with China, Indonesia, Japan and Mexico committing to purchase 2.3 million bushels of U.S. sorghum. These sales bring total commitments to 128 million bushels or 51 percent of the USDA target, with 33 weeks left in the marketing year. Shipments were also very strong with China, Indonesia, Mexico and Nigeria purchasing 7.9 million bushels. Prices on the Gulf were firm.

January 20, 2017

Would You Grow Grain Sorghum for $3.95/Bushel Guaranteed—Under the PLC provision of the farm bill, that is the reference price or true floor price despite any market gains made above $3.95. In other words, if you sell grain for $4/bushel and the average received price for grain is below $3.95 (average national price received today is around $2.90/bushel), you still receive the difference between the average national price and the $3.95 reference price. Today we estimate that number to be $1.05 per bushel in PLC payments on your FSA sorghum PLC production number. You must have signed up for the PLC coverage with your base acres provision, which will adjust to 85% of base, and are only covered under those base acres. In addition, generic (cotton) base acres, can also be planted in sorghum and receive the same payment scenario. PLC payments also count toward your payment limitations as well.

Example using 200 acres:

Sorghum Base                       100 acres

Generic Base                         100 acres

Sorghum PLC Yield             70 bu/ac

Estimated PLC payment      $1.05  WASDE estimate

Planted Sorghum acres       100

Planted Generic Acres         100

Effective Sorghum Base      200

Payment Base (85%)           170

Total Sorghum Payment      $12,495 (170 x 70 x $1.05)

Payment per acre                 $62

Balancing Act—The 85th Texas Legislature convened on Tuesday January 10. Although the House and Senate are still months away from passing any legislation, both chambers did release their respective budget proposals this week. The budgets – aligned in many areas, yet disparate in certain key matters – will set the stage for contentious discussions over the state’s fiscal responsibilities as this session progresses. The House’s proposal calls for $221.3 billion in spending over the next biennium, about $8 billion more than its Senate companion ($213.4 billion). Greater commitments to education and health and human services, two of the most discussed issues during the interim, constitute roughly $5 billion of that $8 billion difference. The other burning issue from the interim – the Child Protective Services crisis – received comparable funding increase proposals from both chambers. Last week, Comptroller Glenn Hegar released a revenue estimate projecting that the state would have $104.9 billion available in general revenue over the biennium. The remaining $100 billion or so comes from federal funds and other sources that state lawmakers have less control over than they do the general revenue funds. The Senate’s budget authorizes spending $103.6 billion of that $104.9 billion, whereas the House calls for $108.9, or $4 billion more than what is estimated to be available. How the House intends to fund their budget is yet to be determined. Legislators have already begun discussing the prospect of tapping into the state’s Economic Stabilization Fund (aka the “Rainy Day Fund”) to cover the spillover. The ESF is projected to hold $11.9 billion by the end of the biennium. The Texas Legislature is constitutionally tasked with only one objective each session: pass a balanced budget. Stay tuned to this newsletter and announcements from TGSA as to how the negotiations in Austin over the next four months will affect you and your community.

Upcoming Feed Grains Marketing Workshop—The feed grains workshop, co-sponsored by the Plains Land Bank and Capital Farm Credit, will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. January 25 and 26, at the Amarillo Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center. The registration fee is $125, which covers the cost associated with instruction, breaks, meals and materials. The course is limited to 50 participants. To register and pay for this course, go to: https://agriliferegister.tamu.edu/Grain. All registrations must be completed by Jan. 23, either online or by phone. Dr. Steve Amosson, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service economist in Amarillo, and Dr. Mark Welch, AgriLife Extension grain marketing specialist in College Station, will be the primary instructors during the workshop, which will dissect the feed–grain market and analyze each of its components. Click here for more information.

Grain Indemnity Fund FailsTDA recently announced Texas grain producers have voted against the establishment of a producer assessment to self-insure against financial risks associated with selling or storing grain. TDA certified all the ballots, and the final results were 148 in favor of establishing the fund and 665 against. A total of 813 valid ballots were cast.

Trump Nominates Sonny Perdue for Agriculture Secretary—President Trump is nominating former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue as the next Secretary of Agriculture, according to Trump’s incoming press secretary. Perdue is an original member of Trump’s Agricultural Advisory Committee. He grew up on a row crop farm in central Georgia and, following his stint as Governor, started an Atlanta-based export facilitation venture.

Market Perspectives—Sorghum: Net sales of 14,900 MT were up noticeably from the previous week, but down 84 percent from the prior 4-week average. Increases were reported for Japan (10,000 MT), China (6,800 MT, including decreases of 2,400 MT), and Indonesia (100 MT). Reductions were reported for unknown destinations (2,000 MT). Exports of 180,500 MT were up noticeably from the previous week and up 31 percent from the prior 4-week average. The destinations were China (179,800 MT) and Indonesia (700 MT).Screen Shot 2017-01-20 at 3.25.36 PM

January 6, 2017

Consider Sorghum Reference Price When Making Planting Decisions—Sorghum producers should consider the impact of the $3.95 reference price for sorghum when making 2017 planting decisions as National Sorghum Producers believes significant upside potential exists for 2018 Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program payments. This probability is of particular importance for producers with generic base (cotton) acres. For example, a producer planting sorghum on generic base acres with a PLC yield of 70 bushels would receive a payment of $47.60 per acre if the national marketing year average price for the crop planted this spring is $3.15. Producers should remember a commodity rally would mean additional market value, not lost program payment opportunity. A market rally is likely to include all commodities, thus reducing all program payments. This makes the $3.95 reference price a true price floor.

Sugar Cane Aphid Research and Exchange Meeting Held in Dallas—Hosted by Dow, Bayer and the United Sorghum Checkoff Program more that 50 research scientist, entomologist and agronomist met this week to review current research as well as chart a path to control the SCA. Of great interest were projects that focused on impact of seed treatments, variety selections and spray treatment for various types of infestations. Researchers from California to Georgia gave over 25 presentations regarding aphids. “It is very ensuring to know that copious amounts of research and extension are being done to rid our industry of this pest,” said Wayne Cleveland, executive director of TGSP. “Texas has concerted a great effort to better understand how to identify and control SCA but research needs to continue to ensure the pest is a thing of the past. I am confident, through research funded by TGSP and USCP this will be accomplished.” Discussions also centered around seed varieties exhibiting the most promise of being aphid resistant as well as on-going seed breeding to include an aphid resistant trait into seed. The meeting will continue in the coming years and expand to include other topics as deemed necessary to add profitability to growing sorghum.

Texas Legislative Session—Next Tuesday, January 10, the 85th Texas Legislature will convene in Austin. Over the interim, Texas Grain Sorghum Association committed substantial time and resources to growing our footprint in state policy matters. After the 84th Session in 2015, TGSA hired Patrick Wade to work full-time on state policy issues, and his residence in Austin will help to ensure that you stay up-to-date on legislative proceedings. This newsletter will house updates from Patrick about the progress of agriculture legislation and general state policy developments. We will also provide you with other avenues to stay informed about what’s going on in Austin as session gets underway. If you have any questions or legislative issues you wish to discuss, do not hesitate to contact Patrick at patrick@texassorghum.org.

Texas Cuba Trade Alliance Upcoming Events—TCTA will hold a workshop on “Doing Business with Cuba” in Austin, Texas on Jan. 23. To see more details about the event, please click here. TCTA will also conduct the same workshop in Houston Jan. 24. The agenda can be found here. Registration documents for either event can be found here.

Market Perspectives—Sorghum: Net sales of 30,700 MT for 2016/2017 resulted as increases for China (64,500 MT, including 58,000 MT switched from unknown destinations and decreases of 3,200 MT), Mexico (17,900 MT), and Indonesia (3,300 MT), were partially offset by reductions for unknown destinations (55,000 MT). Exports of 115,000 MT were down 57 percent from the previous week and 31 percent from the prior 4-week average. The destinations were China (108,800 MT), Mexico (5,700 MT), and Nigeria (400 MT).screen-shot-2017-01-05-at-9-31-30-pm

 

 

December 19, 2016

Sugarcane Aphid and Grazing Grain Sorghum Stalks—In the sorghum belt following grain harvest, some growers will elect to graze their sorghum stalks during the early fall and winter. Sugarcane aphids, if not properly controlled, can cause severe injury to the sorghum plant. Many have asked how much this injury reduces the feeding value of sorghum stover. In 2016, entomologists Pat Porter, Blayne Reed and Katelyn Kowles at Texas AgriLilfe were able to conduct trials to examine the quality of sorghum stover that had suffered different levels of injury from the sugarcane aphid. By controlling aphids with insecticides at different infestation levels, the entomologists were able to create different levels of crop injury. Crop injury ranged from very little to severe plant damage caused by the sugarcane aphid. Crop injury was rated using a scale of zero to ten, with ten representing 91 to 100 percent leaf area damage or dead plants. Following grain harvest, stover was sent to Servi-Tech labs for quality analysis. A more detailed description of how the trials were conducted, as well as various graphs of the nutrient analysis, was reported in Texas Sugarcane Aphid News on Dec. 9th.

Results and Interpretation:

Not surprisingly, the quality of the stover did decrease with increased plant damage caused by the sugarcane aphid (see attached TDN graph). However, the drop in quality was not as much as one might have expected. Percent acid detergent fiber (ADF) increased from approximately 29 to 37.5 percent, total digestible nutrients (TDN) decreased from 68.5 to 60 percent and digestible energy decreased from 1.4 to 1.21 Mcal/lb dry forage. There was a trend for crude protein to decrease but the correlation with plant injury was poor. It is important to note that even though the sugarcane aphid did reduce the quality of the sorghum stover, the overall quality remained good. Even at the highest plant damage rating, the stover quality was comparable to most sorghum hay. For comparison, the average percent ADF was 34.8 and TDN was 65.9 in a forage sorghum hay trial conducted by Texas AgriLife near Amarillo, TX, in 2010 (Texas AgriLife Variety Testing). In reviewing the data with Dr. Ted McCollum, Texas AgriLife beef cattle nutritionist, he said that forage with a TDN value of 60 or greater is more than adequate for beef cows in late gestation and early lactation. For stocker cattle, Dr. McCollum indicated that a TDN value of 60 will project to a daily gain of about 1.4 lb/day gain while a 67 percent TDN will project over 2 lb/day gain. He also stated that protein supplement is necessary when grazing sorghum stover regardless of any sugarcane aphid damage. There has also been concern that the sooty mold that often grows on the dried sorghum leaves that were infested by sugarcane aphids might be toxic to cattle.  Initial testing of the mold by Kansas State (personal communication) has shown this to be a common non-toxic mold. Please contact Brent Bean at brentb@sorghumcheckoff.com with any comments or questions.

tdn-combined

Indemnity Fund Update—Texas Department of Ag has delayed ballot counting for the indemnity fund vote until Wednesday, Dec. 23. Some of the ballot boxes had not been received as of Friday.

Shareowners Approve Monsanto Merger with Bayer—Monsanto shareholders approved the merger with Bayer CropScience during a special meeting on Dec. 13, 2016. Under the agreement, at the closing of the merger currently expected by the end of 2017, Monsanto shareholders will receive $128 per share in cash. To read more on the merger, click here.

Export Report—Sorghum continued strong sales last week with a total of 10.2 million bushels. China led the export commitments with 8.2 million bushels. These sales bring total commitments for the current marketing year to 114.73 million bushels.

December 2, 2016

Grain Indemnity Fund Vote Approaching—A referendum on the statewide establishment of a grain indemnity fund held by the Texas Grain Producers Indemnity Board will take place Dec. 5 through Dec. 9. Anyone who has produced corn, sorghum, soybeans or wheat within the last 36 months is eligible to vote. Ballots are available at all Texas A&M AgriLife Extension county offices during regular business hours. Additional information about the Texas Grain Producer Indemnity Fund can be found on their website, www.texasgrainindemnity.org/. 

Export Exchange Results in $460 Million in Grain and Co-Product Sales—The Export Exchange conference hosted this fall by the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) and Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) is already paying dividends, according to new surveys of overseas grain buyers who attended – to the tune of nearly a half billion dollars’ worth of grain and ethanol co-product sales. Buyers and end-users were asked after the conference if they made purchase agreements with sellers and how much volume was purchased. In total, attendees reported sales of approximately 2.6 million metric tons of grains and co-products worth $460 million traded either at the conference or immediately before or after. The top grain traded during the two-day conference was corn, with 924,500 metric tons collectively exchanged, followed by distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS), with 875,000 metric tons exchanged. This means buyers at the conference struck deals to purchase an amount of DDGS equivalent to roughly 8 percent of last year’s total U.S. DDGS exports. According to the survey, 428,000 metric tons of sorghum was also traded during the event. Export Exchange 2016 offered attendees a unique opportunity to meet and build relationships with domestic suppliers of corn, DDGS, sorghum, barley and other commodities. More than 200 international buyers and end-users of coarse grains and co-products from more than 35 countries were in Detroit for the conference, held Oct. 24 to 26, and for related tours of U.S. farms, ethanol plans and export infrastructure as part of Council trade teams.

Market Perspectives—SorghumNet sales of 227,000 MT were down 22 percent from the previous week and 34 percent from the prior 4-week average. Increases were reported for China (162,500 MT, including 56,000 MT switched from unknown destinations) and unknown destinations (64,500 MT). Exports of 59,200 MT were down 48 percent from the previous week and 6 percent from the prior 4-week average. The destinations were China (56,500 MT), Nigeria (1,800 MT), and Mexico (900 MT). screen-shot-2016-12-02-at-3-08-07-pm

Attend Commodity Classic—Registration and housing for the 2017 Commodity Classic will open Wednesday, Dec. 7 at commodityclassic.com. Participants can log on to register at 10 a.m. The 2017 Commodity Classic will be March 2-4, 2017, in San Antonio, Texas.

November 11, 2016

BIP Grant – $17 million Biofuels Infrastructure Program (BIP) Grant quietly goes into place. The program, designed to place over 700, E15 blender pumps into Texas fueling stations is quietly nearing completion. A total of 160 stations will have 41 dedicated E85 dispensers, 654 blender dispensers and 49 underground tanks. 654 blender dipsensers are “E15 pumps” as opposed to the standard E10 pumps. “We are very excited about being able to leverage producer checkoff funds with this grant in order to increase usage of Texas produced ethanol”, said Wayne Cleveland, Executive Director of Texas Grain Sorghum Producers. The grant is being administered through TDA and has various project partners that will spend over $12 million in their own funds to build infrastructure for ethanol. A majority of the pumps will be located in Metropolitan areas with a few going into place in Plainview and Lubbock. TGSP is currently working with all groups to help market and brand those pumps.

TGSA Holds Southern Regional Meeting — Last week, TGSA’s newly formed delegate body held the first meeting of one of its three regions – North, Central, and South. The body met in Corpus Christi for an evening of discussion about agriculture policies and the state of the sorghum market. Highlights of the discussion include:

• Marc Adams from CoBank walking members through the ripple effects of grain lien legislation that passed the Texas Legislature in 2015
• Patrick Wade laying out TGSA’s policy agenda heading into the 2017 Texas Legislature. The delegate body’s legislative committee decided to commit to defending water rights, individual property rights, fair transportation policy, and the ethanol industry.
• Tim Lust discussed where Washington DC currently stands in regard to the 2018 Farm Bill and what can be expected moving forward
• Wayne Cleveland relayed the newest marketing statistics
Following the meeting, delegate body members from the region will submit votes to nominate someone to TGSA’s board of directors. Each region will nominate one member to the board each year for three years, until the board is entirely comprised of delegate body members. We are excited about the future of our association and look forward to seeing the North region members in Amarillo at the end of the month.

Strong Exports Continue — Demand from the export market reached historic levels for the week ending Nov. 3, with 16 million bushels of sorghum sold since Oct. 26, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service’s report. The sales represented one of the highest recorded export sales of sorghum in one week. The trend continued into this week as another round of historically strong export commitments were posted, China lead Japan and Mexico in purchasing 13.8 million bushels. These sales bring total commitments for the year to 71.3 million bushels or 28.5 percent of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s export target for the marketing year. Shipments were also strong with China, Japan and Mexico taking delivery of 3.5 million bushels, bringing total shipments for the year to 49.1 million bushels.

Advanta Seeds Partners with Texas A&M AgriLife — Advanta Seeds and Texas A&M AgriLife Research formed a partnership focusing on seed technology research and development for a variety of crops, including sorghum. Texas A&M will house a new bioetch research center that both organizations will utilize. The partnership’s goal is to provide higher yielding hybrids that are stable across seasons in order to help farmers meet global food supply and sustainability challenges.

October 28, 2016

Property Rights Organization Launched—Earlier this week, Texans for Property Rights (TPR) announced its formation. TPR is a coalition of state agriculture organizations dedicated to protecting landowners’ property rights. TGSA was proud to sign its name onto the coalition and we look forward to working in Austin and around the state to advance its cause. We encourage you to visit www.TexansforPropertyRights.com and share your story to help defend all landowners’ rights.

New Program Offered at Annual Amarillo Farm Show—The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service will be offering something a little different at this year’s Panhandle Farm and Ranch Management Symposium during the Amarillo Farm and Ranch Show, Nov. 29-Dec. 1.

“We are calling the program RRAD as it emphasizes Researched, Relevant information provided by AgriLife and encourages Discussion and interaction,” said Danny Nusser, AgriLife Extension regional program leader in Amarillo.

The RRAD program will be in the Grand Plaza of the Amarillo Civic Center, 401 S. Buchanan St. in Amarillo. It will follow the annual Amarillo Chamber of Commerce luncheon, and conclude around 5 p.m.

“This program is designed to allow producers an opportunity to gain research-based, relevant knowledge on topics important to them,” Nusser said. “In addition, we will focus on allowing producers time to interact and share experiences related to these topics and get questions answered.”

Producers will have a choice of six sessions they can attend. Each session will be 1 hour and 15 minutes. At the conclusion of each session, producers can move to a different location and topic.

“This presentation approach allows producers to attend the sessions of interest and come and go as they please,” he said. “We felt like this new approach could meet individual needs for information and time. It also allows producers to contribute to the discussion about their experiences and opinions related to each topic.”

There will be the potential for up to three Texas Department of Agriculture continuing education units in the areas of laws and regulations, integrated pest management and general.  The CEU’s will only be offered for those topics focusing on issues related to pesticides.

2016-rrad-farm-show-flyer-color-copy

Market Perspectives– SorghumNet sales of 300 MT for 2016/2017 resulted as increases for China (57,500 MT, including 58,000 MT switched from unknown destinations and decreases of 500 MT) and South Korea (800 MT), were partially offset by reductions for unknown destinations (58,000 MT). Exports of 61,800 MT were reported to China (57,500 MT) and Mexico (4,300 MT). To read the entire Market Perspectives, provided by the US Grains Council, click here.

screen-shot-2016-10-28-at-11-04-18-am

October 14, 2016

On the Road Again – On Wednesday, September 28 the Texas House Committee on Transportation held an interim hearing to discuss ongoing concerns with cargo weight limits and truck axle regulations. Present Texas Transportation code prevents any vehicle from operating on a public highway or port-of-entry to Mexico if it has:
1) A single axle weight over 20,000 lbs
2) A tandem axle weight over 34,000 lbs
3) An overall gross weight over 80,000 lbs
The committee heard testimony advising for and against raising those limit. Business and manufacturing trade association representatives, citing their industries’ projected production growth, proposed increasing the above weight limits. Trucking industry representatives, however, expressed concerns about the safety of heavier loads, which would have less stable centers of gravity and greater potential for damage in the case of a crash. The trucking industry said they would not support any weight increases without mandating six axles for those loads. it was brought to the committee’s attention that Texas is in fact the only state that doesn’t allow six-axle trucks to enter ports. Even adding extra axles, though, is accompanied by concerns for truckers’ safety in situations involving inclement weather. The financial burden for repairing the stress to roads that would result from these increased loads was not a central issue of discussion in this hearing, but it continues to be a significant obstacle to advancing any legislation on the issue.

Texas Water Hearing – On October 13, the Texas House Agriculture & Livestock Committee and Natural Resources Committee held a joint hearing to discuss “the sources of water used by Texans in the production of food and fiber, and examine the current water delivery methods and water conservation goals for agricultural use.” The committee heard testimonies from representatives of commodity organizations and water conservation groups.
The committees made it clear that they appreciate the conservation efforts that producers undertake to ensure future generations of Texans have access to water. The testimonies were primarily concerned with addressing the efficiency of existing delivery methods and evaluating the best avenues for government to assist in improving that efficiency.
Although existing water delivery methods already achieve high levels of efficiency – often losing less than 10 percent of water in most systems – the committees and testimonies agreed that there is always room for improvement. For instance, due to exorbitant costs, not all producers are able to purchase the most effective, high-tech water conservation equipment on the market. Kody Bessent, of Plains Cotton Growers, emphasized the importance of cost-sharing government programs when it comes to expanding access to these technologies.
The discussion was focused on agricultural water use, but Rep. Lyle Larson (R – San Antonio) remarked that urban areas such as his district ought to do a better job learning from the conservation efforts in rural Texas. With water looming as a contentious issue in the upcoming 85th Legislative Session, Texas Grain Sorghum Association remains committed to protecting your rights to the most valuable resource we have.

Latin America Trade Team Coming to Texas – A team of 11 sorghum buyers and end users from Colombia and Peru will be in Texas October 19-21 to network with U.S. suppliers and to learn more about the state and national sorghum industry. The visit is hosted by USGC, USCP and TGSB. The team will arrive in the Houston area on October 19th and attend a mini sorghum seminar, tour two port facilities and then will make its way up to Fort Worth stopping at a sorghum farm en route. In Fort Worth, the team will tour and visit with three major sorghum supplier companies. The team will then depart for Detroit, Michigan to attend the U.S. Grains Council 2016 Export Exchange.

Texas Sorghum 2017 RFP – The Texas Grain Sorghum Board (TGSB) has released its 2017 Request for Proposals. Proposals are due by email to morgan@texassorghum.org on or before November 9, 2016. Proposals will be ranked and approved at the winter board meeting of TGSB to be held at the end of November in Amarillo. The board is concentrating on 12 priority areas, with the first prioirty focusing on sugarcane aphid resistant varieties in particular regions, and the promotion of those varieties to growers. If your proposal is chosen, the producer board would like all final reports to include an index size card that has an overall summary of the results found so that those may be copied and handed out to growers. To receive TGSB’s 2017 RFP document, please email morgan@texassorghum.org.

September 2, 2016

Understanding Your Property Rights—As any landowner will tell you, the threat of being legally liable for someone else’s actions on their property – whether the person was invited or trespassing – often weighs on their mind. Eighty percent of Texas land is privately owned, meaning it’s important for everyone to understand their property rights. Take, for instance, the recent Texas Supreme Court case Boerjan v Rodriguez. In it, a “coyote” (a specific kind of transportation for illegal immigrants) was illegally trespassing across a private ranch in South Texas when they were stopped by a ranch employee. The coyote fled, the employee and crashed his car in the process, resulting in the death of the family of immigrants being transported. Other family members of the immigrants filed suit against the ranch for wrongful death, claiming the landowners were culpable for the crash and deaths. Fortunately, a trial court provided summary judgment in favor of the landowners, a decision that was further affirmed by the Texas Supreme Court. The fact that this ended as a cut-and-dry decision did not however, prevent the defendants from spending countless hours in legal preparation and trial proceedings. As such, here is a reminder about the three classes of persons who may enter your property and your duties owed to them:

  1. Trespasser – In the decision in Boerjan, the Court confirmed that “the only duty the premises owner owes a trespasser is not to injure him willfully, wantonly, or through gross negligence.” Simple negligence cannot be captured in the situation of a trespasser, making this the most limited duty a landowner owes to a third-party.
  2. Licensee – Licensee refers to a third-party allowed to enter your property when the general public may not be. Examples of this class include emergency responders or state inspectors. Landowners must make a licensee aware of (or remedy) dangerous conditions the licensee would be naturally unaware of. In addition, the landowner cannot intentionally injure the licensee. The duty owed to a licensee is broader than the duty owed to a trespasser.
  3. Invitee – An invitee refers to a person who enters the property for mutual benefit with the landowner. A friend, coworker, or anyone you provide with express permission to enter your private property is considered an invitee. This class commands the widest liability. All the responsibilities owed to a licensee (no intentional injury, make aware of dangerous conditions) are included, but it is taken one step further. The landowner must also make an invitee aware of (or remedy) a dangerous condition that they could have known about with a reasonable inspection of their property.

USDA Releases First 2017 Ag Export Forecast— China will surpass Canada as the top destination for U.S. agricultural exports in 2017, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s first forecast for next year’s export totals. USDA projected total U.S. agricultural exports at $133 billion for fiscal year 2017, the sixth highest ever and up $6 billion from the last forecast. USDA lowered sorghum exports by $600 million for 2017, based on expectations of reduced demand from China, even as robust sales and shipments of sorghum continue to push volumes of sorghum exports higher than USDA projections in fiscal year 2016.

Market Perspectives– SorghumNet sales of 9,500 MT for 2015/2016 resulted as increases for China (64,200 MT, including 55,000 MT switched from unknown destinations), Indonesia (200 MT), and South Korea (100 MT), were partially offset by reductions for unknown destinations (55,000 MT). For 2016/2017, net sales of 68,000 MT were reported for unknown destinations (58,000 MT) and Japan (10,000 MT). Exports of 145,100 MT were up noticeably from the previous week and 33 percent from the prior 4-week average. The destinations were China (143,200 MT), Mexico (1,400 MT), Indonesia (400 MT), and South Korea (200 MT). To read the entire Market Perspectives, provided by the US Grains Council, click here.

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Comment Today on Need for Atrazine, Propazine—Atrazine and propazine are under attack by the Environmental Protection Agency. Despite science-based regulations demonstrating the safety of these chemicals for more than 50 years, the EPA’s hyperactive regulatory machine threatens to render these important crop protection tools useless in controlling weeds on 90 percent of the acres in the U.S. Weigh in on how EPA’s draft Ecological Risk Assessments put farmers at an economic disadvantage and submit your own comments before October 4, 2016, at http://sorghumgrowers.com/sorghumalert.

August 16, 2016

Comment Today on Need for Atrazine, Propazine—Atrazine and propazine are under attack by the Environmental Protection Agency. Despite science-based regulations demonstrating the safety of these chemicals for more than 50 years, the EPA’s hyperactive regulatory machine threatens to render these important crop protection tools useless in controlling weeds on 90 percent of the acres in the U.S. Weigh in on how EPA’s draft Ecological Risk Assessments put farmers at an economic disadvantage and submit your own comments before October 4, 2016, at http://sorghumgrowers.com/sorghumalert.

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Agricultural Loan Guarantee Program—Open enrollment is currently underway for the ALG Program. The program provides financial assistance to establish or enhance farming or ranching operations or to establish an agricultural-related business. Assistance is available in the form of guarantees based on a tiered structure, not to exceed $750,000 or 70% of the loan amount—whichever is less.

There are three options depending on the terms of the loan:

  • $250,000 or 90% of the loan amount, whichever is less
  • $500,000 or 80% of the loan amount, whichever is less
  • $750,000 or 70% of the loan amount, whichever is less

Young Farmer Grant (YFG) Program: TAFA offers a semiannual grant program to eligible applicants who are at least 18 years of age but younger than 46 years of age and who are engaged in creating or expanding agriculture in Texas. The applicant must be able to make dollar-for-dollar matching expenditures to sustain, create or expand the proposed project. Individual grants may range from $5,000 to $10,000.

Interest Rate Reduction (IRR) Program: TAFA works with the Texas Comptroller to facilitate lending at below market rates to qualified applicants for projects that will establish, enhance or expand an agricultural operation in Texas.

Young Farmer Interest Rate Reduction (YFIRR) Program: Young farmers can see greater reductions in their interest costs through this program. Any person who is at least 18 years of age but younger than 46 years of age and proposes to use loan proceeds in a manner that will help accomplish the state’s goal of fostering the creation and expansion of an agricultural business in Texas is eligible.

For additional information including program specific details click here. For questions contact TDA’s Grants Office at 512-463-6908 or by email at Grants@TexasAgriculture.gov.

2016 NASS Cash Rent Statistics Released—The 2016 NASS results of their Cash Rent surveys have been released. The results are obtained by a survey of farmers conducted by the United States Department of Agricultural National Agricultural Statistics Service. Every year, NASS collects cash rent data by state for irrigated cropland, non-irrigated cropland, and pastureland.  In even numbered years, they break this data down by county.  The county-level reports should be out in September.  For now, we have the national and state-by-state results. Nationwide, cash rental rates have dropped in the last year.  Here are the results of the cash rent survey:

  • Pastureland: $13/acre (down $1.00 from 2015)
  • Non-irrigated cropland: $125/acre (down $8.00 from 2015)
  • Irrigated cropland: $206/acre (down $3.00 from 2015)

For Texas, the results were mixed with an increase in irrigated cropland rates, but decreases for dryland cropland and pasture.  The survey results are as follows:

  • Pastureland:  $6.80/acre (down $0.70 from 2015)
  • Non-irrigated cropland:  $27.00 (down $2.00 from 2015)
  • Irrigated cropland:  $90.00 (up $8.00 from 2015)

In order to view the average lease rates for irrigated cropland, non-irrigated cropland, and pastureland in each of the 50 states, click here. If you are interested in more information on leasing, join Shannon Ferrell and Tiffany Dowell Lashmet on Wednesday (Aug. 17), at 11 central time for our free webinar on Agricultural Leases. For more information on the webinar, click here. The post 2016 NASS Cash Rent Statistics Released appeared first on Texas Agriculture Law.

TGSP Approves SCA Insecticide Decision Aid Research Study— Development of a Decision Aid for Control of the Sugarcane Aphid in Grain Sorghum after the Initial Insecticide Application; Co-Investigators: Pat Porter, Blayne Reed, Kerry Siders, Tommy Doederlein, and Katelyn Kowles. Collaborator: Ed Bynum. (Extension Entomologist, Extension Agent—IPM.)—Until sugarcane aphid resistant hybrids become available it is likely that much of the sorghum acreage on the High Plains will exceed the economic threshold and require at least a first insecticide application. However, there is no clear economic threshold for deciding to make a second, follow-up insecticide application and growers are faced with the possibility of applying insecticides that are not needed or not applying insecticides that are needed. Through this study a decision guide will be developed, allowing producers to quickly determine when to apply second and subsequent insecticide applications. The plant damage to yield loss relationships documented through this work will also assist in getting Section 18 emergency use registrations for new insecticides. On-farm trials will be conducted in Hockley/Cochran/Lamb (Kerry Siders) and Dawson/Lynn (Tommy Doederlein) counties. The same experimental design will be used in all on-farm trials. Pat Porter and Katelyn Kowles will travel to Dawson/Lynn counties to help collect data. An expanded trial at the Lubbock Research and Extension Center will follow the same protocol but will be conducted on sugarcane aphid susceptible sorghum (DK36-06) and sugarcane aphid resistant sorghum (DK37-07) in order to determine whether resistant sorghum has a different yield to leaf damage rating relationship than does susceptible sorghum. Blayne Reed and his field scouts will travel to Lubbock to help collect data.

Market Perspectives–Sorghum: Net sales of 60,400 MT for 2015/2016 were reported for China (49,600 MT, switched from unknown destinations), unknown destinations (8,000 MT), Colombia (2,500 MT), and Mexico (400 MT). For 2016/2017, net sales of 55,500 MT were reported for unknown destinations. Exports of 241,400 MT were up noticeably from the previous week and from the prior 4-week average. The destinations were China (213,000 MT), Colombia (27,500 MT), and Mexico (1,000 MT). To read the entire Market Perspectives, provided by the US Grains Council, click here.
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