Grain Sorghum NEWS
Settlement Business, Not Science Decision
3-2-12--Kansas Corn and
Grain Sorghum Join Governor Brownback in Celebrating Kansas Agriculture Week
Sorghum Producing Counties in Kansas
2-22-12--Growers Meet at
Kansas Commodity Classic
2-15-12--Kansas Sorghum Grower Bill Greving Testifies on Energy and Agriculture
before Senate Ag Committee
Farms Are Winners in National Sorghum Yield and Management Contest
11-2-11--Eight Kansas Ethanol Plants Receive Advance
Applaud Trade Agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama
Adults Learn in Agriland at the State Fair
9-2-11--Harnessing the Power
of Plants: Studying Sorghum Genetics to Fuel Green Energy Research
President Greg Shelor Testifies at Senate Ag Committee Field Hearing
4-14-11--Kansas Atrazine BMPs—Oldies
Association Celebrates Passage of Sorghum Checkoff
Continue to Step Up to Meet Demand
Roberts Addresses Kansas Commodity Classic in Great Bend
Combest Headline Kansas Commodity Classic Feb. 22
1-7-11—United Sorghum Checkoff Information Available
at Topeka Farm Show
Growers Win National Sorghum Yield Contest Honors
and Sorghum Farmers Applaud Extension of Ethanol Tax Provisions
Vilsack Reappoints Kansas Growers to Sorghum Checkoff Board
Feed Expert Helps Effort to Build US Sorghum Exports to Indonesia,
10-28-10--Kansas Sorghum Growers Blast Through 2010 Harvest
9-24-10--Kansas Corn, Grain Sorghum Heard at Senate Ag Hearing on EPA and
White speaks about atrazine, activists, attorneys and subpoenas
9-8-10-- Corn and grain sorghum growers join state ag groups to offer
hands-on ag education at Kansas State Fair
become proactive through social media
7-14-10--Kansas Growers See New Over the Top Sorghum Weed Control Field
7-7-2010--Loss of Atrazine Would Wipe Out 21,000 to 48,000 Jobs
Dependant on Agriculture
6-30-10--Farmers Plant 7.1
Million Acres to Feedgrains
6-2-10--Kansas Corn, Sorghum Planting Progresses with Warmer
5-14-10--Sorghum Checkoff to Sponsor Sorghum Food Conference
4-14-10--Kansas Corn and
Sorghum Partake in Earth Day Festivities
3-23-10--National Sorghum Checkoff
Program at Mid-America Farm Expo, Salina
3-10-10--Kansas Grain Sorghum
Producers Discuss Hot Topics at 2010 Commodity Classic
2-15-10--Kansas Corn and Sorghum Join in
1-21-10--AGRICULTURE GROUPS DEFEND ATRAZINE AGAINST AGENDA-DRIVEN
1-15-10--Over 50 Ag Groups Call on EPA to Continue to Use Science, Not
Politics in Atrazine Review
Sorghum Growers Recognized Nationally in Yield Contest
11-6-09--Kansas Corn, Sorghum Groups Boost Outreach Efforts with New
11-3-09--Comments on FIFRA SAP on Atrazine Review
Leaders Voice Atrazine Support
Sorghum to Hit Record Yield in 2009 Crop
8-25-09--Kansas Growers Say Activist Groups Twist EPA Atrazine Data to
Out of State Trial Attorneys Miss the Point in Kansas Atrazine Lawsuit
Hillsboro Supplies Atrazine Lawsuit Records to Growers Associations
Growers Ask Marion County Attorney to Investigate Open Records, Open
Farming Communities Targeted by Trial Attorneys for Atrazine Lawsuit
Go To Archived News
5-25-12--Atrazine Settlement Business, Not Science Decision
While corn and grain sorghum growers slept last night, trial attorneys
from Texas and Illinois were likely popping corks on bottles of champagne,
celebrating a non-science based settlement with Syngenta, the maker of the
herbicide atrazine. Jere White, executive director of the Kansas Corn
Growers Association and Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers Association said
while community water systems in several states, including Kansas, had
joined the class action lawsuit, the real winners will be the attorneys
who will skim about $35 million off the top of the $105 million
The communities who joined the lawsuit sought damages against Syngenta and
others for having atrazine in their intake water, even if the atrazine
levels were well below the Federal Drinking Water Standard of 3 parts per
billion set by the Environmental Protection Agency.
“We are disappointed that water systems, including a few systems in rural
Kansas communities, were willing to join a lawsuit that challenged
regulatory standards that are critical for American agriculture, and in
fact to those same water systems” White said. “While some of these lawsuit
participants may receive a relatively small amount of money for their
participation, the real winners are the out-of-state trial attorneys who
will take tens of millions of dollars off the top. It’s ironic that the
trial attorneys’ bounty will ultimately be paid by the farmers who support
the economies of the communities that joined the lawsuit.”
Meanwhile, EPA’s ongoing Science Advisory Panels on atrazine continue. The
lawsuit has no bearing on the regulatory process.
Details of the settlement were outlined in a Syngenta news release:
“Syngenta and attorneys for several community water systems have agreed to
settle litigation related to the herbicide atrazine in order to avoid the
business uncertainty and expense of protracted litigation.
Syngenta acknowledges no liability and continues to stand by the safety of
atrazine. The scientific evidence continues to make it clear that no one
ever has or ever could be exposed to enough atrazine in water to affect
their health. The plaintiffs acknowledge that they have not commissioned
and are not aware of any new scientific studies relating to the safety of
The proposed settlement agreement which requires court approval was filed
with the United States District Court for the Southern District of
Illinois on May 24, 2012. Water systems joining the class will be eligible
for payments from a $105 million settlement funded by Syngenta.
and Grain Sorghum Join Governor Brownback in Celebrating Kansas
Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has proclaimed March 4-10, 2012 as Kansas
Agriculture Week in order to recognize and celebrate the abundance
provided by Kansas agriculture.
"Kansas has a strong agricultural tradition that predates its statehood,
and it continues today as a cornerstone of our state's economy," Gov.
Brownback said. "As we look towards the future, growing agriculture in
Kansas is one of my top priorities."
Kansas produces nearly $4.9 billion in agriculture exports a year. Kansas
farmers provide food for Americans and people in 102 different countries
around the world. At 28.2 million acres, Kansas has the second-most
cropland of any state, and the most cropland of any state by percentage.
"With the rapid increase in the world population, the importance of
agriculture is only going to increase in the future," said Secretary of
Agriculture Dale Rodman. "Food production in the U.S. is going to need to
double by 2050. It's a tremendous challenge, but one I'm confident Kansas
farmers and ranchers will meet."
In addition to the proclamation, a variety of activities are being
sponsored by the Kansas Corn and Grain Sorghum, along with other
agriculture groups and the Kansas Department of Agriculture to commemorate
the week. These activities include a Statehouse food drive, a social media
campaign, agriculture-related announcements in schools and an awards
ceremony for winners of a Kansas Foundation for Agriculture in the
Classroom postcard contest.
For more information on Kansas Agriculture Week activities, follow the
Kansas Department of Agriculture on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/KansasDeptofAg
or visit the National Agriculture Day website at
Grain Sorghum Producing Counties in Kansas
North Central Kansas had the highest production of grain sorghum in 2011.
Last year, production was highest mostly in the Southwest portion of
Kansas. The state saw much warmer and drier conditions this year compared
to last and production shifted due to drought in the Southern two-thirds
of the state.
Jewell County led the state in highest sorghum production with 5.95
million bushels followed by Smith County with 4.97 million bushels.
Mitchell, Rooks and Osborne County rounded out the top five. Marshall
County saw the highest yields in 2011 with 112.5 bushels per acre.
The Kansas grain sorghum crop totaled 110.0 million bushels, 36 percent
below the 2010 crop and the lowest since 1964. The total acreage planted
was up 250,000 acres from the previous year and yields averaged 55 bushels
per acre. Despite production being down, Kansas continues to lead the
Nation in sorghum production and accounts for 51 percent of the U.S. grain
2-22-12--Growers Meet at Kansas Commodity Classic
Policy, markets and weather were the topics covered by speakers at the
2012 Kansas Commodity Classic this week. Growers gathered at the
DoubleTree by Hilton Wichita Airport Hotel on Tuesday for the event.
Kansas Secretary of Agriculture Dale Rodman kicked off the day’s program
with an update from the Kansas Department of Agriculture. He reported that
Kansas agriculture is focused on growth and that he believes that U.S.
agriculturists are more attuned to the world markets and are some of the
nation’s top entrepreneurs.
Mike Smith, meteorologist and CEO of Wichita-based Weather Data Services
reported on near and long-term weather. Though Kansas experienced a mild
winter, that was not the case for most parts of the world, as world
temperatures in January were slightly colder than normal. Smith informed
growers that corn and bean planting should be ahead of schedule this year.
Smith predicts an enhanced tornado risk for Eastern Kansas and northern
Kansas should above average temperatures this summer.
Senator Jerry Moran, the keynote speaker, addressed issues in Washington,
D.C., and how they affect Kansas agriculture. Moran says that constant
education about farming is needed in Congress, especially how it pertains
to urban growth. “We need to figure out a way to tell an urban world what
it is farmers do,” stated Moran. “My colleagues have little appreciation
for the place we call home.”
Moran also stressed the importance of keeping families farming and spoke
his concerns regarding the Department of Labor’s proposed rules that will
prevent children working on a farm or ranch. Moran is in his first term as
a U.S. Senator representing Kansas. He serves on several Senate committees
including the Banking, Appropriations, and Homeland Security and
Government Affairs committees.
Also on Tuesday, Kansas Soybean, Corn, Grain Sorghum and Wheat took the
opportunity to present Aaron Popelka with a Distinguished Service Award
for his work as the chief counsel for Senator Jerry Moran. Popelka is now
the vice president of legal and government affairs for the Kansas
Joe Prusacki, USDA’s Director of Statistics and Farm Futures Grain Analyst
Arlan Suderman took the stage to speak about USDA crop reports and the
markets before the growers enjoyed the Commodity Classic Luncheon. In the
afternoon, National Corn Growers Association Vice President of Public
Policy Jon Doggett; National Sorghum Producers Executive Director Tim
Lust, and Dan Maltby, Dan Maltby Risk Management Group gave commodity
updates for wheat, grain sorghum and corn.
The 2012 Kansas Commodity Classic was sponsored by the Kansas Agriculture
Network, Kansas Corn Growers Association, Kansas Association of Wheat
Growers and Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers Association.
2-15-12--Kansas Sorghum Grower Bill Greving Testifies on Energy and Agriculture
before Senate Ag Committee
Bill Greving, a diversified farmer from
Prairie View, Kansas testified before the Senate Committee on Agriculture,
Nutrition and Forestry in Washington, DC on Feb. 14. Greving talked to the
committee about his involvement in the Prairie Horizon Agri-Energy ethanol
plant in Phillipsburg, and the benefits the plant has for his community
and his crop and livestock operation. Greving explained that he and his
wife are investors in the ethanol plant, suppliers of grain to the plant
and buyers of wet distillers grain for their livestock feeding operation.
Testimony of Bill Greving before the
U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry
February 15, 2012
Madam Chairwoman, Ranking Member Roberts and members of the Committee, I
would like to thank you on behalf of Kansas grain sorghum farmers for the
opportunity to share my insights into sorghum, ethanol and energy.
Greving Farms is a diversified family farm near Prairie View, Kansas. My
wife Diana and I operate the farm with our son Colby and his wife Cher. We
are located in north central Kansas, about 15 miles west of Phillipsburg.
We primarily grow wheat and grain sorghum on our farm and also grow corn
and alfalfa under irrigation. In addition to crops, we operate a cow/calf
operation with approximately 500 head of cows and also have a licensed
feedlot with 950 head of age and source verified cattle we sell to U.S.
Kansas is the nation’s leading producer of grain sorghum, accounting for
51 percent of U.S. production in 2011. Although growing conditions in
Kansas can often be challenging, sorghum works and is one of the few crops
we can grow with limited rainfall. It is naturally drought tolerant, heat
resistant and does well on marginal land. With limited rainfall (less than
21 inches per year), and a declining Ogallala Aquifer, sorghum is becoming
even more valuable in our crop rotation.
The renewable fuels sector is the fastest growing value-added market for
the sorghum industry, and ethanol production now accounts for more than 30
percent of domestic grain sorghum use. Sorghum is used in most Kansas
ethanol plants and has proven itself as a viable feedstock of choice.
Sorghum and corn are interchangeable in these plants, which has greatly
benefited Kansas ethanol, farmers and cattlemen alike.
My wife and I own shares in the Prairie Horizon Agri-Energy ethanol plant
in Phillipsburg and were among the original investors because we believe
in providing value to our community as well as rural economic growth. Not
only do we sell grain sorghum to the plant to make ethanol, but we also
buy wet distillers grains from the plant, which provide a high nutrient
feed additive for our own cattle to eat.
As a cattle producer, Greving Farms is seeing significant savings due to
the availability of wet distillers grains from the ethanol plant. More
than a third of the sorghum used at the plant returns to the livestock
feeding stream as high protein distillers grains. The nutritionist we work
with estimates a savings of 10 cents per head per day using wet distillers
grains in our feedlot. That is how much we save in protein costs. The cost
of gain savings is about 2 to 3 cents per pound of gain on a finished
animal. That’s 19 to 20 dollars per animal in feed ration savings. Farms
like ours are proof that ethanol production, grain production and meat
production work together. In this synergistic system we are growing feed,
fuel and food on my farm.
The Phillipsburg ethanol plant created competition and generated a
domestic market that added value to our sorghum crop. We estimate the
Phillipsburg plant has increased the price of sorghum by about 30 cents
per bushel to those selling to the plant. In addition, Prairie Horizon
Agri-Energy is a major employer in our town, providing 33 good paying
jobs. This figure doesn’t include many other jobs created by the plant
like the truck drivers who haul grain, ethanol, and distillers grains. At
our plant, 100 to 150 trucks come through on a daily basis. The jobs, the
economic activity created, and the tax revenue generated by the plant has
a large economic impact on Phillipsburg, a town with a population of
2,500. In addition, our plant is an active member of the community and
sponsors many community activities in our area. On a state-wide basis,
Kansas ethanol plants directly employ more than 325 people in ten rural
communities, and create many more jobs in related businesses.
Our farm has been in the family for 121 years. The migration of young
people away from rural areas is a known fact. Phillips County has seen a 6
percent decline in population in the last 10 years, according to the
census. It is crucial to our farm and to our communities that we support
industries in our rural areas that will help keep young people and young
families in rural Kansas. Homegrown fuels like ethanol are a perfect fit
for rural communities, with a wide range of benefits.
The Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels, Section 9005 of the Farm Bill
Energy Title provides payments to energy producers to support expanding
production of advanced biofuels, which are derived from renewable biomass
other than corn-kernel starch. Grain sorghum is an eligible feedstock for
the production of advanced biofuels, and sorghum based ethanol is
supplying several hundred million gallons of advanced biofuels today.
Eight ethanol plants in Kansas benefited from payments under this program
in 2011, which provided incentives to ethanol plants that used grain
sorghum. The 2011 payments from the 9005 program to Kansas ethanol plants
accounted for 69 million bushels of grain sorghum, over 40 percent of the
2010 Kansas grain sorghum crop.
The 9005 program is a program that works and encourages alternative
feedstocks for ethanol. This program has encouraged the use of grain
sorghum in Kansas ethanol at a time when we are all paying more attention
to water conservation. Sorghum makes sense in Kansas and growers will
plant it if they have strong markets for their crop. The 9005 program
helps to ensure that our ethanol plants will remain committed to using
grain sorghum as a feedstock.
When we are talking about job growth and economic growth, programs like
the 9005 program that encourage ethanol production with sorghum are
important to our ethanol plants and communities.
Farmers aren’t the only ones who benefit—schools, restaurants, hotels,
stores and other local businesses all get an economic boost from the
I’d also like to mention the potential for sweet sorghum and high biomass
forage sorghum. The 2008 Farm Bill defined an advanced biofuel as a fuel
made from renewable biomass other than corn starch. Grain, sweet and
forage sorghum all qualify as an advanced biofuel, and currently only
grain sorghum is being made into ethanol on a commercial scale. However,
the first commercial-scale sweet sorghum-to-ethanol plant is expected to
break ground in Florida for construction sometime this year.
Sweet sorghum is the next logical step for ethanol production in the U.S.,
and the continuation of 9005 is essential in supporting the development of
commercial production of sweet sorghum ethanol.
Sweet sorghum can also help diversify the geographic distribution of
ethanol in the U.S. by expanding production from the Midwest to locations
such as Florida and California.
I understand sweet sorghum can be grown in a variety of climates and is
naturally drought tolerant, like grain sorghum. I’ve long thought that
sweet sorghum can be successfully grown in Kansas, and I think it has a
lot of potential if the syrup can be incorporated into the feedstock
stream of our Kansas ethanol plants. This would allow for more
diversification in advanced biofuel feedstocks.
Another point to consider when discussing sweet sorghum is the need to
develop a viable crop insurance program that will guard against production
losses due to weather. Until producers can build production history, it
will make sense to use a rainfall index product, but the industry will
need protection from excessive rainfall, as well as inadequate rainfall,
because the first growers will be in areas where weather events like
hurricanes could potentially damage production.
In conclusion, I would thank Chairwoman Stabenow and Ranking Member
Roberts for inviting a farmer to appear before you today to talk about
agriculture and energy. While those who have spoken before me are focused
on policy, I am focused on production, and building a farming business
that will sustain my family for generations to come. Economic growth
brought by ethanol plants has been a benefit to agricultural producers and
communities, as well as our state and local economies. Programs that
bolster rural economies benefit us all.
Kansas Farms Are Winners in National Sorghum Yield and Management Contest
Two Kansas sorghum producers earned national honors in the National
Sorghum Yield and Management Contest. Levin Farms, in Phillips County won
the Non-Irrigated Bin Buster award with their No-Till Non-Irrigated entry.
The Levin Farms yield was 185.9 bushels per acre, which was 105 bushels
per acre over the county average. Levin farms planted Pioneer 85G46. Jerry
and Sue Long, of Long Farms in Washington County placed second in the
Conventional Till-Non-Irrigated division. The Longs had a yield of 168.52
bushels per acre, 76 bushels over the county average. The Longs planted
Pioneer 84G62. State and National Winners will be recognized at the NSP
Yield and Management Contest Awards Dinner on Friday, March 2, during the
2012 Commodity Classic March 1-3 in Nashville, Tennessee
State winners for Kansas were:
Lary Kendig, Osborne County, 177.46 bu/acre with Pioneer 84G62
Ki Gamble, Kiowa County, 149.98 bu/acre with Pioneer 84G62
Bibb and Nighswonger, Comanche County, 117.82 bu/acre with DEKALB KDS53-67
No Till Non-Irrigated
Levin Farms, 185.91 bu/acre with Pioneer 85G46
David Polifka, Gove County, 130.12 bu/acre with Pioneer 86G32
Thomas Beckman, Thomas County 140.95 bu/acre with DEKALB DKS37-07
Long Farms, Washington County, 158.72 bu/acre with Pioneer 84G62
Travis LeCLair, Clay County, 156.35 bu/acre with Pioneer 85Y40
Conventional Till Non-Irrigated
Long Farms, Washington County, 168.52 bu/acre with Pioneer 84G62
Fred Nienemann, Marshall County, 157.98 bu/acre with Pioneer 84G62
Dale Myers, Labette County, 69.78 bu/acre with Pioneer 85G03
Conventional Till Irrigated:
Galen Berning, Wichita County, 165.97 with Pioneer 84G62
Bibb and Nighswonger, Comanche County, 137 bu/acre with DEKALB DKS53-67
Ethanol Plants Receive Advance Biofuels Funds
Kansas ethanol plants account for eight of the 14 ethanol producers to
receive pay payments through the USDA's Bioenergy Program for Advanced
Biofuels program. USDA announced the payments on Oct. 31. Payments are
based on biofuels produced from renewable biomass other than corn starch.
Ethanol from grain sorghum qualifies for the advanced biofuels program.
“Sorghum and corn are interchangeable in the ethanol making process,”
KGSPA Communications Director Sue Schulte said. “Kansas is the nation’s
leading producer of sorghum, growing between 40 and 50 percent of the
nation’s crop annually. In fact, Kansas is predicted to produce 52 percent
of the 2011 crop. Having both sorghum and corn as feedstock benefits our
Kansas ethanol producers.”
Also on the list of producers that will receive payments are biodiesel
plants, pellet producers and anaerobic digestion units.
"This funding will help local producers increase the production and
availability of renewable energy and thus help our nation begin to reduce
its reliance on foreign oil," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
"Just as importantly, USDA's support will help to further develop the
nation's growing biofuels industry and generate green jobs and economic
Here’s a listing of the ethanol producers
that will receive payments:
Arkalon Ethanol LLC: $1,711,257
Bonanza Bioenergy LLC: $900,458
Ese Alcohol: $49,670
Kansas Ethanol LLC: $1,440,213
Nesika Energy LLC: $220,960
Prairie Horizon Agri-Energy LLC: $874,943
Reeve Agri Energy Inc.: $416,123
Western Plains Energy LLC: $899,861
Other States--Arizona: Pinal Energy LLC: $70,643; Indiana: Central
Indiana Ethanol LLC: $120,490; Missouri: Abengoa Bioenergy Corp.:
Kaapa Ethanol LLC: $2,829; Texas: Levelland/Hockley County Ethanol LLC:
$514,881; White Energy Inc.: $3,146,733
10-14-11--Sorghum Producers Applaud Trade Agreements
with Korea, Colombia and Panama
The Free Trade Agreements with Korea, Columbia and Panama passed by the
House and Senate last night were welcome news to sorghum producers,
according to the Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers Association. The Free
Trade Agreements were passed after being stalled for nearly five years.
Senator Jerry Moran and Senator Pat Roberts both voted in favor of the
three agreements. The state’s four U.S. Representatives also supported the
FTAs in votes on the House floor with District Congressman Tim Huelskamp,
Second District Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins, Third District Congressman
Kevin Yoder and Fourth District Congressman Mike Pompeo all voting in
KGSPA President Greg Shelor, Minneola, said the trade agreements would
benefit Kansas agriculture and the state’s economy. Total Kansas ag
exports top were valued at nearly $5 billion in 2010.
“Being a land-locked state, we don’t always think about exports, but they
are very important to Kansas growers,” Shelor said. “Kansas is the
nation’s leading producer of sorghum, growing about half of the nation’s
crop. The U.S. is the world’s top sorghum exporting country. On average,
about 40 percent of the U.S. sorghum crop is exported.”
Ratification of the agreements will provide immediate duty-free access for
most U.S. goods. The agreements are expected to generate about $13 billion
in additional export revenue. About $11 billion of that increase will come
“These countries represent great opportunities for sorghum and other
feedgrains, as well as for grain-fed beef and pork,” Shelor said. “We’ve
waited five years to see these trade agreements ratified. In that time,
other countries have been approving their own trade agreements, and we
have lost market share waiting for ratification. The free trade agreements
will help us regain credibility in these countries.”
The Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers Association represents its members in
areas of legislation and regulation.
9-13-11--Children, Adults Learn in Agriland at the State Fair
At Agriland, an interactive display
at the Kansas State Fair, kids can find a cow to milk; a combine cab to
climb into; saddles to sit on; buckets of grain to reach into; a soil
tunnel to walk through and more. Several agricultural groups work together
in Agriland, located in the Pride of Kansas building. The Kansas corn and
Kansas grain sorghum organizations man the exhibit the first day and last
day of the fair.
Blossom, a full-sized automated cow that shows children can milk, is a
popular stop at Agriland. As a four-year-old girl approached Blossom, the
milk cow mooed, causing the girl to jump up and squeal. She finally found
her courage to milk the cow.
“It’s fun to watch the kids interact with the displays in Agriland,”
according to Jeff Filinger, Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers Association
board member. Filinger, a farmer from Cuba in north-central Kansas who was
on hand to help at Agriland. “By climbing into a combine cab pretending
the harvest grain, or sitting on saddles pretending to herd cattle, they
are learning about what we do on the farm.”
As an 8-year-old boy climbed into the combine cab, his dad commented,
“He’ll sit in there all day if you let him.” In front of the combine cab
is a large screen television showing crops being harvested. Children
pretend they are harvesting, turning the steering wheel as the combine
comes to the end of a row.
Tom and Sandy Tibbits, who farm near Minneapolis, are making volunteering
at Agriland a yearly event. Tom serves on Kansas Corn Growers Association
“I think it is important to have farmers
helping out in Agriland,” Tom Tibbits said. “Agriland is aimed at
educating kids, but we reach a lot of adults too.”
New to Agriland this year are two feed bunks showing animal food and human
food. One feed bunk features examples of livestock feed from prairie hay
and alfalfa to grain mixtures and distillers grain from an ethanol plant.
The human food feed bunk features the “My Plate” exhibit. The U.S.
Department of Agriculture launched “My Plate” in June to replace the food
pyramid as a visual guide designed to help Americans have balanced diets.
Agriland is a popular stop for school
teachers, who bring their classes to learn about agriculture. Teachers
have the opportunity to sign up for a chance to win a classroom
presentation by the Kansas Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom.
The presentations focus on teaching students where their food comes from.
To be eligible to win, teachers must visit Agriland at the fair with their
KCGA and KGSPA have been a part of Agriland since its beginning. Over the
years, the display has since grown in size and the number of cooperators.
Today, Agriland is one of the main features in the Pride of Kansas
building. Cooperators now include Kansas Corn, Kansas Sorghum, Kansas
Department of Agriculture, Kansas Soybeans, Kansas Wheat, Kansas Dairy,
Kansas Agri-Women, Kansas Beef, Kansas Sunflowers, Kansas Cotton, and the
Kansas Foundation for Ag in the Classroom. The Soil Tunnel trailer is
provided by the Miami County Conservation District. Agriland is staffed by
volunteers and visited by approximately 5,000 people during the fair each
The 2011 Kansas State Fair runs through September 18 in Hutchinson. For
more information on fair events, visit
the Power of Plants: Studying Sorghum Genetics to Fuel Green Energy
Those choices at the pump may look a little greener in the future as a
Kansas State University research team is conducting a study that could
eventually add "plant" to the list of fuel options.
In early August, four faculty members from K-State's College of
Agriculture and College of Engineering received an $800,000 grant from the
U.S. departments of Agriculture and Energy under the Plant Feedstocks
Genomics for Bioenergy research program. The grant funds a three-year
study that will provide the genetic groundwork necessary for potentially
turning sorghum into biofuel by increasing the plant's biomass yield.
"Bioenergy is a very hot topic and there's a lot of talk about its
possibilities," said Jianming Yu, associate professor of agronomy and
leader of the study. "But a lot of work still needs to be done since it's
still a new field. And unless genetics is improved, industries probably
won't want to get involved because there are still too many unknowns."
Yu is conducting the sorghum bioenergy study with K-State's Tesfaye Tesso,
assistant professor of agronomy; Scott Staggenborg, professor of agronomy;
and Donghai Wang, professor of biological and agricultural engineering,
along with researchers from the University of Minnesota and the USDA's
Agricultural Research Service plant genetic resources conservation unit.
K-State is one of nine universities chosen nationally to participate in
genomics studies related to bioenergy. Potential benefits from these
university studies range from decreasing oil imports to optimizing crops
that can tolerate drought, poor soil and other unfavorable conditions.
Over the next three years the K-State team will build a genetic database
on biomass sorghum, a type of sorghum that contains little grain and is
mostly leaves and stalk. Biomass sorghum provides a large amount of
high-quality feedstock, which can produce eco-friendly fuels. Kansas is
the top producer of sorghum in the U.S., accounting for nearly half of the
country's annual yield. Similarly, the U.S. is the world's largest grain
sorghum exporter and ranks second in production, according to Staggenborg.
But despite the country's large production of sorghum, little data about
biomass sorghum's genetics and how to improve the crop exists, outside of
some USDA studies on the sorghum collection conducted many years ago.
While many grain crops have had their genetics and production refined and
documented for decades, the K-State sorghum team essentially has to start
"Our study will sort of be a prototype with new lessons and insights into
how we combine this proven method of plant breeding -- changing a plant's
genetics to make more starch, more yield, or in this case, more biomass --
with this new genomic technology to optimize the improvement process,"
Tesso said. "In the bigger picture, this study addresses some of those
emerging issues with energy and climate change."
To build the database, the team is looking at genetic diversity in
sorghum's germplasm -- essentially the plant's gene bank. Members will
start with 1,000 sorghum lines selected from the center of the germplasm
pool. A line is the unique genetic material in sorghum. Those samples will
then be genotyped, a process where the team looks at each sample's unique
molecular diversity and compares it to the molecular diversity found in
the sampled collection as a whole.
From those 1,000 samples, a subset of 300 samples will be chosen to
represent the maximum amount of diversity, and will be studied more in
depth for biomass yield and biomass composition. Once the biomass yield is
found for those 300 samples, Yu and the others can then predict the
biomass yield of the remaining 700 untested samples from that original
1,000 sample set.
Additionally, some field samples will chemically analyzed. Data from this
analysis will be used with near-infrared spectroscopy technology to build
predictive models. The researchers can use these models to accurately
predict the biomass composition in the other samples rather than using the
costly chemical analysis process. Wang, whose expertise is in biological
and agricultural engineering, will oversee this phase.
"This process is part of what we call 21st-century predictive biology," Yu
said. "We'll have a total of 3,600 field samples collected for this
two-year, dual replication study from three locations in Kansas. The third
and final year will be dedicated to validation. Basically we'll have a ton
of samples to work with, and this predictive process will help us manage
the data and workload."
Yu said the group is prepped for this new genetic challenge through their
previous research projects, which have been supported by K-State's
Targeted Excellence Program, Kansas Grain Sorghum Commission, National
Sorghum Checkoff Program and the Great Plains Sorghum Improvement and
"There's that adage that says you can't just build a better car by making
a bigger engine. You also need a solid frame to support it," Yu said. "For
this biomass sorghum car, we don't have the upgrades yet that are
necessary to really think about the engine, so we need to build and
improve that framework. It's pretty exciting that a single project like
this can bring together such an interdisciplinary team for a singular
8-26-11--KGSPA President Greg Shelor Testifies at Senate Ag Committee
KGSPA President Greg Shelor testified
Thursday before the Senate Ag Committee field hearing at Wichita. Read his
written remarks below.
Testimony of Gregory Shelor before the
U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry
August 25, 2011
Madam Chairwoman, Ranking Member Roberts and members of the Committee, I
would like to thank you on behalf of Kansas grain sorghum farmers for the
opportunity to share our views on discussions regarding farm bill
I farm near Minneola in southwest Kansas, producing grain sorghum, wheat,
corn and cattle. I am the president of the Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers
Association and am a past president of the National Sorghum Producers.
Kansas is the nation’s leading producer of grain sorghum. This year we are
expected to produce 52 percent of the nation’s sorghum crop. We normally
produce between 40 and 50 percent of the U.S. grain sorghum crop. Sorghum
is a feedgrain and is used as a feedstock for ethanol, for livestock feed
and is exported to other countries. There is also a growing interest in
food-grade sorghum, which is gluten-free and benefits those who choose a
gluten-free diet, or cannot tolerate gluten in their diet due to Celiac
Disease. Grain sorghum is a great benefit to many Kansas farmers because
it can be grown in challenging conditions. It is naturally drought
tolerant and does well even on marginal land.
We depend on farm programs for our day-to-day business decisions in
Kansas. When I apply for a farm operating loan, my banker asks me two
questions: Do you have crop insurance and what do you anticipate in direct
payments? My ability to secure annual operating loans directly depends
upon the stability of farm programs. Strong farm programs provide a
certainty and stability that is vital for growers to be able to get
operating capital from their banks. That operating capital bolsters local
rural economies as well.
We appreciate your leadership in maintaining and strengthening farm
programs. We understand agriculture will see cuts in budget negotiations,
but those cuts should be equitable and proportionate to cuts to other
Because most of the grain sorghum we raise is a dryland crop, risk
management tools are vital to sorghum producers. Federal crop insurance
and other risk management tools all have a place in ensuring a stable crop
production system for the security of food, fiber and fuel.
In a state like Kansas, farmers are often faced with challenging
conditions. Having a robust risk management system in place is vitally
important to my farm. Direct payments also play a role on my farm, often
filling in the gap between the level of risk management coverage I need
compared to the level of coverage I can get. This is especially true in a
year like this, where much of our state is suffering from varying levels
In Kansas, sorghum is used mainly for ethanol production and livestock.
While most think of ethanol as a product made from corn, most Kansas
ethanol plants use both feed grains to produce this renewable fuel. In
fact, much of the ethanol produced in Kansas is made from grain sorghum.
Having both grain sorghum and corn available allows ethanol plants more
flexibility and better pricing opportunities. This ensures a strong and
viable ethanol industry in our state, and also ensures a good value added
market for sorghum producers.
Ethanol’s co-product, distillers grains (DDGS) is a valued feed product
for cattle feeders in Kansas. Cattle feeders like using sorghum wet or dry
distillers grains in their feeding rations. The high-nutrient feed comes
to them already processed, which is a valuable benefit to both feeders and
sorghum farmers. It is also important for consumers to know that that
one-third of total sorghum used to make ethanol re-enters the feed market
as a distillers grain. Many feeders in Kansas actually prefer feeding
distillers to feeding the whole grain because of ease of processing.
While I have focused on the use of grain sorghum for ethanol, I would like
to mention the potential for the use of sweet sorghum and high biomass
sorghum. As the potential for these biofuels crops advance, it will be
important to develop risk management tools for these crops.
Grain sorghum is drought tolerant and well-suited to arid conditions we
often experience in our state. As you know, many parts of the state are
suffering a severe drought this year. While this drought will end, over
the long term our issues with water will not. Sorghum will play an
increasingly important role in rotations in areas where water is in short
supply. Water conservation is bound to be one of the prevailing issues of
the future, and conservation will remain extremely important in the coming
farm bill debate. Sorghum and other water smart crops will be an important
part of the solution.
In closing, I would like to underline the importance of stable and viable
farm programs, especially to minor crops like grain sorghum. Sorghum
provides many benefits to conservation and crop rotations for our growers.
Sorghum also plays an important role in a dependable feedgrain supply for
our ethanol and livestock producers. However, as a crop that is used to
make the most of difficult growing conditions, it is also uniquely exposed
to risk. Well thought-out farm programs that address risks and the
potential of grain sorghum will benefit our growers as well as our local,
state and national economies.
Atrazine BMPs—Oldies but Goodies
When you hear a song on the radio that’s been around for years, you find
yourself singing along. Kansas farmers feel the same way about their
atrazine best management practices. Through their state checkoffs, Kansas
corn and grain sorghum growers funded research at Kansas State University
to develop atrazine best management practices in 1996. Fifteen years
later, growers are still using these BMPs to reduce atrazine runoff,
according to Jere White, executive director of the Kansas Corn Growers
Association and Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers Association.
“Looking back at 1996, “The Macarena” was the #1 hit song. I’m sure many
of our growers can still dance The Macarena, but they are more likely to
remember many of the Kansas atrazine BMPs released that same year,” White
said. “When you look at our use of BMPs including no-till and reduced till
practices, our growers have been very proactive and successful in reducing
Atrazine continues to be a target of environmental groups and trial
attorneys. While the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Drinking Water
Standard for atrazine is a conservative 3 parts per billion, activists are
pursuing lawsuits over atrazine levels that are well within the legal
limits. The World Health Organization, however, recommended in October
that the drinking water standard for atrazine should be set at 100 parts
“Atrazine continues to be the poster child of activists and junk
scientists, but it is a necessary part of weed control for our corn and
grain sorghum farmers,” White said. “Over the years, we have learned how
to use much lower rates and more responsibly. In fact, atrazine is a key
component for many growers in their use of conservation tillage, which has
a multitude of environmental benefits.”
Farmers can choose the practices that fit best in their farm management
scheme. The BMPs include practices like incorporating atrazine in the top
two inches of soil, using pre-plant applications in the spring or fall;
reduced rates, split applications and establishing vegetative or riparian
Vegetative buffers and riparian forest buffers continue to be a popular
and effective method to reduce runoff for growers whose fields are near
waterways. Buffers continue to be promoted by the Kansas Conservation
Commission and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) as an
effective way to reduce runoff.
“In addition to reducing runoff, conservation buffers offer important
habitat for wildlife,” White said. “This is a win-win for growers and the
When considering Best Management Practices, farmers should select BMPs
that fit within their management systems, are economical and will be most
effective in reducing atrazine runoff.
“K-State Extension offices can advise growers on best management practices
that work best local areas, and I would encourage growers to visit their
local extension office for advice,” White said. “Many of the BMPs that
were developed are widely used today and are a basic part of farming
Association Celebrates Passage of Sorghum Checkoff The USDA announced
the results of the referendum of the United Sorghum Checkoff Program
today. Over 76 percent of the growers who voted in the referendum
supported the continuation of the checkoff. USDA conducted the Sorghum
Checkoff referendum in February.
"That is a significant margin of approval," according to Jere White,
Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers Association executive director. "In the
short time it has existed, USCP has made great strides not only in
research, but also building markets for sorghum growers. I think growers
recognized the need for the sorghum checkoff and voted accordingly."
KGSPA has been active in USCP since its creation in 2008.
"We look forward to a continued relationship with the Sorghum Checkoff,"
White said. "With the referendum completed, the Checkoff can continue its
work in increasing productivity in sorghum and creating a strong
marketplace for the crop."
The Sorghum Checkoff was established under the Commodity Research,
Promotion and Information Act of 1996, and according to USDA Act and
Order, was required to hold a referendum within three years of beginning
operations. Sorghum farmers who paid an assessment had an opportunity to
vote through their local FSA office Feb. 1-28, 2011, to determine the
future of the checkoff. The official USDA press release can be found at
<http://www.ams.usda.gov> www.ams.usda.gov .
Growers Continue to Step Up to Meet Demand
Kansas corn and sorghum producers will plant a combined 7.6 million acres
of feedgrains this year, according to the National Agricultural Statistics
Service Prospective Plantings report. Kansas corn farmers are expected to
plant 5.1 million acres of corn, up five percent from 2010 and the largest
area planted since 1936. Kansas sorghum farmers are expected to plant 2.5
million acres, up six percent from last year. Kansas will plant over 44
percent of the nation's sorghumcrop. Jere White, executive director of the
Kansas Corn Growers Association and Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers
Association said growers are committed to meeting the needs of their
“I think it is important to look at the corn and sorghum numbers both
individually and together as feed grains. Both are used to satisfy the
needs of the livestock and ethanol industries,” White said. “Both crops
are showing healthy increases planting expectations. Between the two
crops, Kansas feedgrains are pegged to pick up 400,000 acres since last
year. That’s impressive.”
At 581 million bushels, the 2010 corn crop was the second largest in
history, behind the record-setting 2009 crop. Combined corn and sorghum
production in 2010 was 752.3 million bushels.
for the KASS Prospective Plantings Report
Roberts Addresses Kansas Commodity Classic in Great Bend
GREAT BEND, KS – U.S. Senator Pat Roberts, Ranking Member of the Senate
Agriculture Committee, today addressed the Kansas Commodity Classic in
Great Bend. The following is the text of his prepared remarks:
“Let me assure you that as we begin this new trail ride serving as the
Ranking Member of the Agriculture Committee, I understand fully, as the
only person to ever serve as both Chairman of the House Agriculture
Committee and Ranking Member on Senate Agriculture Committee, the
challenges, and I will need your advice and counsel more than ever.
“Indeed, the task ahead is not easy.
“But as we begin this ride together, let me be clear: I am not ashamed of
production agriculture and you the producers that feed this state, nation,
and a troubled and hungry world.
“‘Production agriculture’ is not, should not, and will not be a dirty word
on my watch. I will be your champion.
“On the grains and fiber side, we are blessed with current prices that are
at spectacular levels. Wheat is over $9/bushel, corn is near $7/bushel,
and beans are over $13/bushel. For those of you that now grow cotton,
prices on that front are at levels not seen since the Civil War. That’s
the good news.
“The bad news is that these high commodity prices are creating challenges
for our livestock producers. I am well aware of the pressure this is
causing, and I assure our cowboys it is something we’re watching closely.
“These prices are also coming at a time of previously unthinkable deficit
and debt levels in our nation’s spending. That means agriculture and
agriculture spending are an easy target for political sound bites.
“Many in Washington argue that due to the high prices we’re currently
experiencing, we no longer need farm programs. They say: ‘Let’s get rid of
them, let’s do away with them, why should we be paying farmers to farm?’
“Well, it is pretty easy to talk with your mouth full – especially in
Washington – when you live in the country where you can enjoy the safest,
most affordable food supply in the world.
“Even the president got in on the act this past week with his budget
proposal. He basically said, ‘I’m for agriculture and producers – except
those 10 percent that represent 80 percent of our nation’s bountiful
harvest. We need to eliminate USDA assistance for them.’
“It was a pretty bold proposal. Especially for someone that put out a
budget that spends more, borrows more and taxes more while making not one
serious proposal to tackle entitlement reform.
“In fact, the president’s budget proposal will raise the national deficit
to $1.6 trillion over the next 10 years.
“We know that level of spending is not sustainable. We know it is a bill
our children and grandchildren cannot afford.
“We know that those of us in Washington must make the difficult choices to
get our fiscal house in order. Yes, that means those of us in agriculture
will also be faced with difficult budget decisions.
“I have made clear to my colleagues that agriculture will do its part. But
I have also made clear that any reductions to agriculture spending must be
fair and proportional to what all other federal agencies and programs are
being asked to give.
“I have also made clear that we must maintain a safety-net for our
producers and that if we are going to take a hard look at USDA spending
everything must be on the table – that includes the 84 percent of current
USDA spending that has nothing to do with commodity and conservation
“We all know that prices have been high before and they’ve always come
back down. That is why one of my top priorities as ranking member is to
preserve a safety-net. I promise you I will do everything I can for you in
“While the budget will be a huge part of our focus in Washington this
year, I will keep my eye on several other priorities that will likely have
a more significant, long term impact on agriculture than any debate we
will have on farm policy and programs.
“We must continue to expand our overseas trade and continue to open new
markets. That means it is time to get off the dime and pass the Korean,
Panama, and Columbian Free Trade Agreements.
“The President needs to send the Korean agreement to the Congress for
approval and it is time for the United States to quit trying to force feed
our labor and environmental policies to Panama and Columbia before we’ll
pass those agreements. Just get the job done.
“Another top priority is to reign in the regulatory power grab of our
federal agencies. At no time have we seen the unprecedented abuse of power
through the regulatory process that we are currently experiencing.
“Recently, the president responded to the hue and cry of the business and
agriculture sectors by saying he was ordering all his federal agencies to
take a hard look at all proposed regulations and perform cost-benefit
analysis to see if they should move forward.
“It is about time somebody called a time out, but I want to be sure the
president and his federal agencies carry through on this proposal. That is
why I have introduced the Regulatory Responsibility for our Economy Act.
“This legislation codifies the president’s executive order, forces
agencies and the Office of Management and Budget to undertake
cost-benefit-analysis and removes the “loop-holes” the president included
in his executive order to bypass stakeholder input on regulations. Late
last week I had 28 Senators join in cosponsoring my legislation.
“We have got to put a halt to this regulatory madness. There is no greater
threat to the modern miracle of United States Agriculture than the
overreach or our regulatory agencies – especially the EPA.
“Or, as my good friend and colleague from Iowa, Chuck Grassley said, ‘EPA
stands for – Ending Production Agriculture.’
“Name almost any regulatory issue that could bring agriculture to its
knees and halt our move forward to continued expanded production and
improved yields, and I can just about guarantee you the EPA has a proposal
to do it:
• Rural Fugitive Dust
• Pesticide Permit Applications, and
• Regulation of all waters, which in EPA’s view includes every dried up
farm pond that no self-respecting duck would ever land on.
• Spray Drift
• Tractor Emission Standards
“At the same time, we’ve got interests groups and some in the
administration that say conventional agriculture and biotech crops are
“My friends, it has got to stop. Not just for the survival of our Kansas
farms and ranches, not just for the survival of this business we call
agriculture, but because of the moral imperative we have as a nation.
“Over the next several decades the world’s population will rise from 6
billion to 9 billion people. During that same time frame we must double
our agriculture production in order to feed a troubled and hungry world.
“Let me repeat that: We must double our agriculture production over the
same time period.
“We can only do that through common sense policies based on sound science
that will allow you our producers to do what you need to get the job done.
“I do not argue with those who support organic or locally grown
agriculture. Some of you do that in your own operations and I know that
there is an important niche market to be served there.
“But the simple fact of the matter is that we are not going to double
production through those farming methods.
“It will only occur through conventional farming techniques that combine
the use of important conservation practices with the use of improved seed
varieties that increase drought and disease resistance while increasing
yields and reducing water consumption.
“As I said earlier, this is a moral imperative. It is also a matter of
“A well fed world, is a much safer and stable place than a hungry world.
Full bellies lead to stability, economic growth and peace. Hungry bellies
lead to discontent, instability, and extremism.
“One must look no further than the issues of extremism and terrorism we
have experienced in much of the Middle East this past decade, or recent
events of unrest in Egypt and elsewhere in recent weeks.
“Yes, much of the recent unrest has been fueled by a long simmering
political discontent. But, if you look deeper into these issues, you’ll
see that many have been fueled by issues of hunger, unstable food
supplies, and a lack of economic growth.
“When nations are hungry, their people are hungry. More often than not, if
the people are hungry it also means they do not have jobs or economic
opportunities. If they are hungry and without economic opportunity it
means they are susceptible to unrest and often violence and extremism.
“Hunger and the lack of economic opportunity have fueled the political
discontent in the Middle East that have led to the protests and uncertain
future we see today. Hunger and a lack of opportunity are what have
created the opening in places like Afghanistan to sow the seeds of hatred
and extremism that threaten our nation.
“We must feed this world.
“We must give our farmers and ranchers the tools you need to be
successful, maintain your operations, and continue to expand your
production. Our government, its Congress, and its regulatory agencies need
to get out of the way and let you do your jobs.
“Nine billion people and a world hungry for nutrition, peace, and
stability are depending on it.
“Thank you. Thank you for all that you and your families do to feed this
troubled and hungry world. It is my honor and privilege to be your Senior
Senator and Ranking Member.”
Combest Headline Kansas Commodity Classic Feb. 22
Senator Pat Roberts and former House Ag Committee Chair Larry Combest will
be featured at the Kansas Commodity Classic on Feb. 22 in Great Bend. The
Kansas corn, wheat and grain sorghum associations along with the Kansas
Agriculture Network are teaming up to sponsor the annual Kansas Commodity
Classic on Tuesday, Feb. 22 at the Highland Hotel and Convention Center in
All farmers are invited to attend the free event, which packs marketing,
weather, policy and technology information into the day's activities.
"We have a great opportunity to bring Senator Roberts and Congressman
Combest, two major farm policy experts onto the same stage at the Kansas
Commodity Classic," says Jere White, executive director of the Kansas
Grain Sorghum Producers Association and Kansas Corn Growers Association.
Justin Gilpin, chief executive officer of the Kansas Association of Wheat
Growers, adds that the Kansas Commodity Classic will give producers
in-depth insight into the factors that most influence on-farm
profitability: weather, markets and policy.
"We are excited to team up with the Kansas Agriculture Network and the
experience they have with their popular Farm Profit Seminars," Gilpin
said. "We'll feature not only top level farm policy discussions, but also
excellent sessions in marketing, weather as well as updates in the latest
in technology for our crops.
U.S. Senator Pat Roberts
Larry Combest, former House Agriculture Committee Chair
Betty Corbin, Corbin Investments, Towanda, Kan.
Joel Widenor, Commodity Weather Group, Bethesda, MD
In addition, industry experts from each commodity will tell producers
about exciting new technologies coming down the road for wheat, corn and
grain sorghum. Topics include:
Drought Tolerant Corn Traits
Over-the-Top Weed Control in Sorghum
The Future of Wheat Breeding: Public/Private Collaborations, Biotech and
What it Means for Farmers
The event will be moderated by Greg Akagi, farm director for the Kansas
"The Kansas Commodity Classic will be a one-stop opportunity for producers
to learn from a top-notch lineup of speakers," Akagi says. "This promises
to be a can't-miss event."
The event, which begins at 9 a.m. (registration at 8 a.m.) is free of
charge and includes a complimentary luncheon. It will be held at the
Highland Hotel and Convention Center in Great Bend. Pre-registration is
appreciated by calling Kansas Wheat at 866-759-4328 or
register by e-mail
Checkoff Information Available at Topeka Farm Show
Sorghum growers can learn about the latest
accomplishments of the United Sorghum Checkoff Program at the Topeka Farm
Show Jan. 11-13 at the Kansas Expocentre. Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers
Association staff will be on hand to answer questions and provide
information on the Sorghum Checkoff. Materials developed by the Sorghum
Checkoff will also be available, including sorghum production guides,
livestock feeding guides and more.
The show hours are as follows: Tuesday- 9 A.M.
to 5 P.M., Wednesday- 9 A.M to 8 P.M. and Thursday- 9 A.M. to 4 P.M.
Parking and admission for the show are free. In addition, the Topeka Farm
Show will feature a Purebred Cattle Expo, Daily Horsemanship Clinics and
leadership seminars produced daily by Shawnee County Extension and
K-State University. Attendees can get the latest information daily on the
show by dialing into AM 580, as WIBW Farm Director, Kelly Lenz, will be
live each day at the show.
The United Sorghum Checkoff Program represents
growers in legislative and regulatory issues. The USCP works to improve
the market position of sorghum by expanding markets, increasing demand and
developing new uses and markets.
For more information about the Topeka Farm
Kansas Growers Win National Sorghum Yield Contest Honors
Kansas growers received honors in the 2010 National Sorghum Producers
Yield and Management Contest. Growers in Phillips, Kiowa and Wichita
counties are national winners in the contest. The Sorghum Yield and
Management Contest scores contestants by comparing their yield to their
county’s average yield.
Levin Farms, Phillips County, placed second in the No-Till
Non-Irrigated division with a yield of 170.98 bushels per acre, beating
the Phillips County average yield by 90.48 bushels. He planted Pioneer
Ki Gamble, Kiowa County, placed third in the Reduced-Till
Irrigated division with a yield of 184.29 bushels per acre, beating the
Kiowa County average yield by 77.59 bushels. He planted Pioneer 84G62.
Galen Berning, Wichita County, placed third in the
Conventional-Till Irrigated division with a yield of 175.5 bushels per
acre, beating the Wichita County average yield by 83 bushels per acre.
He planted Pioneer 84G62.
In addition to the three national winners, Kansas had two state winners
who did not place nationally.
Justin Short, Saline County, won the state competition in Mulch-Till
Non-Irrigated with a yield of 116.43 bushels per acre, beating his
county average yield by 47.13 bushels. He planted DEKALB DKS53-67.
Clayton and Luanne Short, Saline County, won the state competition in
Conventional-Till Non-Irrigated division with a yield of 130.14 bushels
per acre, beating their county average by 60.84 bushels per acre. They
planted Pioneer 84P74.
National and state winners will be recognized at the NSP Yield and
Management Contest Awards Dinner on March 4 held at the 2011 Commodity
Classic in Tampa, Florida.
Follow this link for complete
2010 National Sorghum Producers Yield and Management Contest Results
Corn and Sorghum Farmers Applaud Extension of Ethanol Tax Provisions
A one-year extension of the ethanol blender’s credit is part of the
compromise tax legislation that passed the House of Representatives last
night. The extension bolsters an ethanol industry that provides jobs and
economic growth in rural communities and states, helps keep fuel prices
in check and reduces the nation’s dependence on foreign oil.
The legislation extended vital tax policies that will help the domestic
ethanol industry to continue its steady progress in providing more
American-made fuel from feed grains and materials, according to Jere
White, executive director of the Kansas Corn Growers Association and
Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers Association.
“Our ethanol industry provides jobs and great economic benefits for our
rural communities and certainly is a bright spot in the Kansas economy,”
White said. “While there is strong interest in developing new processes
and feedstocks for ethanol, those advances will not come without a
strong grain-based ethanol industry.”
The bill extended five ethanol provisions through 2011: the blender’s
credit for ethanol; the tariff on imported ethanol; the Small Producer
Tax Credit; the excise tax credits of alternative fuels, and the
investment tax credit for alternative fuel vehicle refueling facilities.
There are 11 ethanol plants in Kansas with a capacity of about 440
million gallons of ethanol, creating a market for about 157 million
bushels of corn and grain sorghum. About 52 million bushels of the grain
returns to the feeding stream as wet or dry distillers grains, a valued
11-24-10--Secretary Vilsack Reappoints Kansas Growers to Sorghum
Two Kansans are among four sorghum growers who were reappointed to the
United Sorghum Checkoff Program Board by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack
today. Jeff Casten of Quenemo and Earl Roemer of Healy were reappointed
to three-year terms on the board. The United Sorghum Checkoff Program is
a 13-member board authorized by the Commodity Promotion, Research, and
Information Act of 1996, is structured so that the state with the
largest production is allocated five positions, the state with the
second largest production is allocated three positions, and the state
with the third largest production is allocated one position. Kansas is
the largest sorghum producing state in the United States. Also
reappointed were Texas growers Troy Skarke and Dale Artho.
Secretary Vilsack selected the appointees from sorghum producers
nominated by certified sorghum producer organizations.
“These appointees represent a cross section of the sorghum industry and
I am confident that the sorghum industry will continue to be well served
by them,” said Vilsack.
The 13-member board, authorized by the Commodity Promotion, Research,
and Information Act of 1996, is structured so that the state with the
largest production is allocated five positions, the state with the
second largest production is allocated three positions, and the state
with the third largest production is allocated one position.
Four of the 13 positions were up for reappointment this year. Other
Kansas members currently serving on the United Sorghum Checkoff Program
are: USCP Chairman Bill Greving, Prairie View; Greg Shelor, Minneola,
and Gary Kilgore, Chanute.
Referendum to Be Held Early 2011
Sorghum Checkoff Chairman Bill Greving is glad to announce the U.S.
Department of Agriculture has finalized procedures for the upcoming
referendum on the continuation of the Sorghum Checkoff Program. For the
program to continue, the Sorghum Promotion, Research, and Information
Order requires that a referendum be conducted no later than 3 years
after the start of assessments, which began on July 1, 2008.
USDA will conduct the referendum Feb. 1-28, 2011, at local Farm Service
Agency (FSA) offices for producers and the Agricultural Marketing
Service office for importers. Ballots may be obtained in person, by mail
or facsimile at county FSA offices, or via the Internet.
Any eligible person engaged in the production or importation of sorghum
from July 1, 2008, to Dec. 31, 2010, is eligible to participate.
Individuals are required to provide documentation such as a sales
receipt or remittance form that shows they engaged in production or
importation of sorghum.
The Sorghum Checkoff Program, and its 13-member board, is authorized by
the Commodity Promotion, Research, and Information Act of 1996. The
mandatory program is funded at the rate of 0.6 percent of the net market
value on grain sorghum and 0.35 percent of the net market value of
The Sorghum Checkoff is intended to be a national, coordinated,
self-help marketing program designed to strengthen the position of
sorghum in the marketplace, maintain and expand existing domestic and
foreign markets and uses for sorghum, and develop new markets and uses
The final procedures were published in the Nov. 18, 2010, Federal
For more information, contact Kenneth R. Payne, Chief, Marketing
Programs, Livestock and Seed Program, AMS, USDA, Room 2628-S, STOP 0251,
1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-0251, by calling
(202) 720-1115, or faxing (202) 720-1125.
11-4-10--K-State Feed Expert Helps Effort to Build US Sorghum Exports to
feeding expert from Kansas State University recently worked with feed
millers in Indonesia and Vietnam to help them understand the benefits of
using U.S. sorghum in their animal feed rations. Alvaro Cordero, U.S.
Grains Council manager of international operations, and Dr. Joe Hancock
of Kansas State University, traveled to Indonesia and Vietnam recently
to promote U.S. sorghum as a viable alternative feed ingredient for use
in poultry and swine rations.
exports helps increase the profit for Kansas farmers, according to Terry
Vinduska of Marion, who is US Grains Council Chairman.
“Dr. Hancock is an
expert on livestock feeding and has extensive experience and credibility
when it comes to using sorghum in feeding rations,” Vinduska said. “A
significant amount of U.S. sorghum is exported and educating potential
customers is the key to building those export markets.”
While exports are
vital to the sorghum industry, the use of sorghum by feed millers in
Indonesia and Vietnam has been practically nonexistent.
“The addition of sorghum to the repertoire of feed ingredients used would
be highly beneficial to the region as sorghum currently has a zero percent
import tariff in Indonesia and a 5 percent tariff in Vietnam,” Cordero
Seminars and workshops funded in part by the United Sorghum Checkoff
Program enabled Cordero and Dr. Hancock to present the latest updates
regarding the nutritional value of sorghum and demonstrate its
competitiveness in feed formulations.
Indonesia’s meat production is dominated by its large poultry sector,
which accounts for 75 percent of total feed demand. Indonesian poultry
consumption has been growing 6 percent annually on the back of steady
economic growth and increase in purchasing power among consumers. Feed
production has also been growing alongside feed demand at an estimated
rate of 7 percent per year. These fundamentals add to the growing prospect
of Indonesia as a consistent importer of U.S. feed grains, such as
“It is great to see so
many groups working together to build markets for sorghum,” according to
Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers Association President Greg Shelor. Shelor
also serves on the USCP Board of Directors. “This year, Kansas will
produce about half of the nation’s sorghum, and exports are an important
market for us.”
The US Grains Council
and USCP are also involved in missions to introduce sorghum in Egypt and
to build markets for sorghum in Mexico.
For more information
on the work of the US Grains Council, visit
for more information on the United Sorghum Checkoff Program, visit
and more for more information on the Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers
10-29-10--Kansas Sorghum Growers Blast
Through 2010 Harvest
More than half of the Kansas grain sorghum crop has been harvested, well
ahead of normal. According to the Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service
Crop Progress Report, 72 percent of the state’s sorghum crop has been
harvested, compared to a five year average of 39 percent. At this time
last year, only 13 percent of the Kansas sorghum crop had been
“We’re not just a little ahead of schedule with sorghum harvest, we are
blasting through sorghum harvest,” according to Sue Schulte, Kansas
Grain Sorghum Producers Association communications director. “It is
unusual have three quarters of our sorghum acres harvested before
Kansas is the nation’s leading producer of grain sorghum. Kansas growers
planted 44 percent of the nation’s sorghum crop and are predicted to
harvest 51 percent of the nation’s grain sorghum.
The Kansas crop, estimated at 171.6 million bushels, is down 24 percent
from 2009. Planted acres and yield were both down from 2009, when the
state set a record average yield of 88 bushels per acre. This year’s
average yield has been estimated at 78 bushels per acre.
“This year’s sorghum yield is closer to average. Most of our growers
experienced near perfect growing conditions for sorghum in 2009,”
Sorghum growers can expect advances in the near future that could help
them produce more sorghum per acre thanks to research projects funded
with grower checkoff funds through the United Sorghum Checkoff Program.
Sorghum checkoff research on over the top weed control is leading to new
products that will be on the market in the next two years. Research in
cold tolerance is also showing promise. Cold tolerant sorghum would
allow for earlier season planting and produce higher yields under cooler
For more information on Kansas grain sorghum, visit www.ksgrains.com.
For more information on the United Sorghum Checkoff Program, visit
9-24-10--Kansas Corn, Grain Sorghum Heard at Senate Ag Hearing on EPA and
White speaks about atrazine, activists, attorneys and subpoenas
EPA’s handling of atrazine regulation was one of the topics at a Senate
Agriculture Committee hearing Thursday. At an oversight hearing on EPA and
agriculture Thursday, the Senate Agriculture Committee heard from the Jere
White executive director of the Kansas Corn Growers Association and Kansas
Grain Sorghum Producers Association. Also speaking at the hearing was EPA
Administrator Lisa Jackson, Rich Hillman, Arkansas Farm Bureau; and Jay
Vroom, CropLife America.
White expressed his concern over the process used by EPA in its latest
round of Science Advisory Panels.
“I explained how EPA has gone through an extensive scientific evaluation
of atrazine that began in 1995, and the fact that they had just
reregistered the product in 2006 with more than 6,000 studies being
involved in that process. Yet, after all of that scientific research,
discussion and decision making, EPA suddenly announced last fall a new
re-review of atrazine after a coordinated media blitz surrounding a
Natural Resources Defense Council study late last summer. So we have EPA
is using a great amount of resources in a politically motivated round of
SAPs, which clearly was a response to activist media hype,” White said.
White also told the committee about a rash of subpoenas issued out of the
Holiday Shores case, an Illinois state court case in which trial attorneys
are representing some community water systems seeking large payouts from
the makers of atrazine.
“Several grower groups who have participated in the stakeholder process at
EPA on atrazine have been targeted to receive subpoenas for massive
amounts of records and information,” White said. “About three-fourths of
the ag groups who participated in last week’s Science Advisory Panel at
EPA had been served subpoenas before the SAP.”
At that time, the Kansas Corn Growers and Grain Sorghum associations had
not yet received subpoenas.
“In my presentation at the SAP, I brought it to the attention of the panel
that people were being harassed for their participation in the process.
When I returned home from Washington DC, I was rewarded with three
White told the Senate Agriculture Committee that the timing of the
subpoenas seemed to be more than a coincidence.
“They are sending a clear message that if you are going to be an advocate
for atrazine, the trial attorneys are going to make you pay a price,” he
said. “When I explained this at the Senate Ag Committee, senators on both
sides of the aisles were clearly concerned.
White’s written comments submitted to the Senate Agriculture Committee may
be found at www.ksgrains.com
9-8-10-- Corn and grain sorghum growers join state ag groups to
offer hands-on ag education at Kansas State Fair
The Kansas Corn Growers Association, Kansas Corn Commission and the
Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers Association will be teaching the public
about agriculture at the Agriland exhibit at the Kansas State Fair.
Agriland was built to engage the senses and stimulate the minds of
children and adults alike with interactive activities that teach the
importance of Kansas agriculture.
Kansas corn and grain sorghum growers will be on hand to answer
questions at the Agriland exhibit on Friday, September 10th and Sunday,
September 19. Agriland is located in the Pride of Kansas building and is
open during the following times:
Friday, September 10 – 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, September 11 through Saturday, September 18 – 9:00 a.m. to
Sunday, September 19 – 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Kansas Corn Growers Association board member Charles Foltz, Garnett has
volunteered at Agriland for several years. “It is fun to watch the kids
go through Agriland. They can sit in a combine cab, milk a cow, and
learn about all kinds of Kansas agriculture,” Foltz said. “The new soil
trailer will give kids and grownups a new perspective on agriculture
from the ground up. “
School teachers will have the opportunity to sign up at Agriland for a
chance to win one of five classroom presentations by the Kansas
Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom. The presentations focus on
teaching students where their food comes from. To be eligible to win,
teachers must visit Agriland at the fair with their class.
Agriland features a variety of exhibits including a greenhouse, beef
exhibit, a life-size milking cow, a food pyramid display and a soil
tunnel provided by the Miami County Conservation District. Agriland also
gives youth an opportunity to dig into buckets filled with grain and a
tractor ride simulation to see how Kansas crops are harvested in the
Kansas Corn and Grain Sorghum work with the following groups to sponsor
Agriland: Kansas Department of Agriculture; Kansas Beef Council; Kansas
Dairy Association and Commission; Midwest Dairy Association; Kansas
Wheat; Kansas Grain Sorghum Commission; Kansas Soybean Association and
Commission; Kansas Cotton Association; Kansas Agriwomen; Kansas
Sunflower Commission; and the Kansas Foundation for Agriculture in the
Classroom and Kansas FFA chapters.
The 2010 Kansas State Fair runs from September 10-19 in Hutchinson, KS.
For more information on fair events, visit www.kansasstatefair.com.
8-27-10-- Farmers Become Proactive Through Social Media
Farmers far and wide are educating consumers and sharing best practices
with one another through social media. This Wednesday, the Kansas Corn
Growers Association (KCGA) and the Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers
Association (KGSPA) held a social media workshop in an effort to get the
growers “plugged-in” to the online community.
Professional speaker and agriculture advocate, Michele Payn-Knoper, led
the group in setting up accounts on Facebook and Twitter. Payn-Knoper
owns and operates her own business, Cause Matters, where she works to
connect farm gate to consumer plate through programs in agriculture
social media strategy and grassroots marketing.
Today, people have access to breaking news, real time market
information, and expert answers right at their fingertips through social
media. As Payn-Knoper states in her Social Media Training Workbook,
“Today’s Internet experience is about efficient community interaction
and information exchange; agriculture loses when farmers don’t engage in
that community. Arm yourself with a base
knowledge of social media to leverage it as a tool for your farm with
customers and influencers. After all, farmers offer the best voice for
agriculture in social media.”
Around 20 corn and grain sorghum farmers gathered in Hutchinson, laptops
and smart phones in-tow and gave four hours of their time to learn the
basics of communicating through social media. Payn-Knoper urged farmers
to spend just 15 minutes a day promoting agriculture.
“With 150 million users on Facebook and 50 million tweets being sent
daily, farmers have an opportunity to be proactive in educating people
about agriculture. Farmers are the experts and if they don’t tell their
story, activist groups will,” says DeEtta Bohling, KCGA and KGSPA
Bohling continues, “Each day consumers are forming opinions about the
agriculture industry, though 98.5% of them are not actively engaged in
farming. This is a business decision for farmers—a decision to help
protect their livelihood.”
The social media workshop was a joint effort with Cause Matters, the
National Corn Growers Association, Kansas Corn Growers Association,
Kansas Corn Commission, and the Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers
For more information on
social media, visit www.ksgrains.com.
7-14-10--Kansas Growers See New Over the Top Sorghum Weed Control Field
A new trait that will allow over-the-top
weed control in grain sorghum was showcased at a field day a K-State
Research Farm at Ashland Bottoms near Manhattan on July 13. The field day
showed field plots treated with the new over the top weed control
technology.. The first new herbicide-tolerant
grain sorghum hybrids are expected to be available in a limited release
for the 2012 growing season.
The ALS-tolerant and
ACCase-tolerant Inzen traits will provide sorghum growers with non-GMO
over-the-top grass and broadleaf weed control options needed for more
versatile application timing. The trait was developed at K-State with
funding by the United Sorghum Checkoff Program. DuPont has developed
sorghum hybrids that can tolerate the herbicide
Representative Warren McDougal talked to the group about the new traits.
“All we want to show today is that the trait is here and it is viable,” he
“The field trial was
impressive. The plots with the new trait had healthy plants with few if
any weeds,” according to Sue Schulte, communications director of the
Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers Association. “Our growers are very excited
about the prospect of an over the top weed control option. Their checkoff
dollars, through United Sorghum Checkoff funded research to make this
K-State Weed Scientist
Curtis Thompson told the growers at the field day that stewardship will be
important if growers want to keep this technology as a viable option over
the years. Crop rotation will be an important component. The technology
being used will work well with crop rotations, he said.
DuPont has been working
with K-State and the United Sorghum Checkoff Program (USCP) to build
stewardship education programs to protect the long-term viability of the
new herbicide traits from developing resistance. For more information on
the sorghum checkoff, visit
www.sorghumcheckoff.com. For more information on the Kansas Grain
Sorghum Producers Association, visit
7-7-10--Loss of Atrazine Would Wipe Out 21,000 to 48,000 Jobs
Dependant on Agriculture
University of Chicago economist says even more losses would come when
sorghum, sugar cane and other crops are considered
WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 7, 2010) – Banning
the agricultural herbicide atrazine would cost between 21,000 and 48,000
jobs from corn production losses alone, according to University of Chicago
economist Don L. Coursey, Ph.D.
Dr. Coursey announced his findings at a briefing sponsored by the Triazine
Network today at the National Press Club in Washington.
Coursey estimates atrazine’s annual production value to corn alone to be
between $2.3 billion and $5 billion. Atrazine’s additional value to
sorghum, sugar cane and other uses increases these totals.
“The economic data on atrazine are very clear. As a first-order estimate,
banning atrazine will erase between 21,000 and 48,000 jobs related to or
dependant on corn production, with additional job losses coming from both
sugar cane and sorghum production losses,” Coursey said. “The range is
wide because we have never before banned a product on which so many depend
and for which suitable replacements have a wide variety of prices and
“If all of that job loss were concentrated in the agricultural sector, its
unemployment would grow by as much as 2.6 percent. Replacement costs for
corn farmers could reach as high as $58 per acre,” Coursey said.
Atrazine has been a mainstay of corn, sorghum and sugar cane production
for 50 years. The second most-used herbicide in the U.S., it controls a
broad range of yield-robbing weeds, is safe for the crop and supports a
variety of farming systems, including soil-saving conservation-till
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) re-registered atrazine in
2006 based on the evidence of nearly 6,000 studies and more than 80,000
public comments. It began an additional, unscheduled review of atrazine in
“Atrazine is essential to U.S. agriculture. We appreciate Dr. Coursey’s
findings and will distribute them to our members, the EPA and to our
elected representatives. With unemployment still painfully high across the
nation, we can’t afford to lose as many as 50,000 jobs and the corn yield
that sustains them,” said Jere White, Triazine Network chairman and
executive director of the Kansas Corn Growers Association.
EPA cited a media report and claims by a longtime anti-atrazine group when
it announced the additional, unscheduled review. It was the first time in
history EPA did not cite sound science to initiate a review process.
Coursey’s statement can be viewed at
6-30-10--Farmers Plant 7.1
Million Acres to Feedgrains
Kansas sorghum farmers planted 2.4 million acres of corn this spring,
according to the June acreage report released by Kansas Agricultural
Statistics Service (KASS). Kansas and Texas lead the nation in planted
acres at 2.4 million each and the two states represent 80 percent of the
nation’s 6 million planted sorghum acres.
The Kansas sorghum crop is on pace with last year and is 88 percent
emerged and is rated 74 good to excellent.
Kansas growers have good overall soil moisture. Statewide, subsoil
moisture is 83 percent adequate. Southwest Kansas is the driest section of
the state with subsoil moisture rated at 61 percent adequate, 23 percent
short and 15 percent very short.
Both corn and sorghum are used as feedstock for livestock, ethanol,
exports and other uses. Kansas farmers have planted 7.1 million acres of
these feedgrains this year.
6-2-10--Kansas Corn, Sorghum Planting Progresses with Warmer
According to the Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service Crop
Progress report, nearly a quarter of the state’s sorghum crop is in the
ground while corn planted is nearly completed. Temperatures were high
across the state last week, most areas reaching high 80’s and low 90’s.
Most of the precipitation fell in the central portion of the state and
in a few areas in the southwest. Favorable weather conditions allowed
for 4.6 days suitable for Kansas grain sorghum producers to continue
planting and for some corn growers to re-plant.
“I’ve had the opportunity to travel through
many areas of the state over the past week and it’s obvious the warmer
temperatures have really spurred the growth on the corn,” according to Sue
Schulte, communications director for the Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers
Association and Kansas Corn Growers Association. “And with sorghum being a
warm weather crop, you can really see a lot of movement in getting that
crop planted now.”
Twenty-three percent of the grain sorghum
has been planted, behind 30 percent from last year. Eight percent of the
crop has emerged, one point ahead of last year. Of the national sorghum
crop, 50 percent has been planted, behind last year’s 54 percent.
Kansas corn growers planted 96 percent of
the corn crop by May 30, the same as last year, but a little behind the
5-year average of 98 percent. Ninety-seven percent of all U.S. corn has
been planted as of May 30, which is one point ahead of the five-year
average and 5 points above the slow 2009 planting season. The Crop
Progress report indicates that corn crop conditions are good, with 72
percent of the corn planted rated good or excellent. The report also
states that 81 percent of the corn planted in Kansas has emerged.
Crop progress and condition estimates are
based on survey data collected each week from early April through the end
of November. To view the USDA Crop Progress report, visit:
5-14-10--Sorghum Checkoff to Sponsor Sorghum Food Conference
Sorghum Checkoff, in conjunction with USDA/ARS, is sponsoring a sorghum
food workshop for food industry leaders on how to use sorghum in whole
grain and gluten-free applications. The workshop will be held June 2-3,
2010 in Manhattan, Kan., in recognition of the Whole Grains Council’s
“Sorghum has been a staple
food in countries around the world for years and has just begun to
increase in popularity as a human food source in the U.S.,” said James
Vorderstrasse, sorghum producer and Sorghum Checkoff board member from
Hebron, Neb. “It is a gluten-free grain so it is an excellent choice for
those with Celiac disease and for diabetics because of its low glycemic
index. This conference will educate many of the major players in food
processing about sorghum’s benefits and potential in the human food
An estimated 1.8 million
people suffer from Celiac disease, which is described as intolerance to
gluten found in wheat flour. This workshop will concentrate on the
research and developments that have been made with sorghum to determine
its health benefits as a whole grain human food source and a tool to fight
The first day of the
conference will be held at the USDA/ARS Center for Grain and Animal Health
Research in Manhattan, Kan. This portion will include presentations by
sorghum researchers from universities such as Kansas State University,
Texas A&M University, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and USDA
Day two will be held at
the American Institute of Baking in Manhattan and will include hands-on
demonstrations and discussions about the opportunities sorghum provides in
the baking industry. For more information about the sorghum food
workshop, please visit www.sorghumcheckoff.com or contact USCP Executive
Director Virgil Smail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The United Sorghum Checkoff Program is a producer funded
organization that is dedicated to improving the sorghum industry through
research, promotion and education. For more information about the USCP
and other market development opportunities please visit
and Sorghum Partake in Earth Day Festivities
In celebration of Earth Day, over 2,000 students from across the
state will receive educational materials from the Kansas Corn Growers
Association (KCGA) and Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers Association
Earth Day, celebrated April 22, is an excellent time to salute farmers.
“Corn and sorghum growers are full-time environmentalists. They
celebrate Earth Day everyday because they are dependent on water and
soil, which is vital to their livelihood,” said KCGA and KGSPA’s
communication specialist, DeEtta Bohling.
KCGA and KGSPA corresponded with several organizations across Kansas,
requesting presentations and materials for area Earth Day celebrations
for school-aged children.
Presentations by KCGA and KGSPA will take place in conjunction with
Neosho County Farm Bureau on April 22 and with Riley County Farm Bureau
on April 28.
“We greatly appreciate the opportunity to stress the importance of
agriculture and Earth Day to America’s future with the cooperation and
support of schools, parents, Ag in the Classroom, and the farm bureaus,”
The KCGA and KGSPA are happy to provide materials for educational
purposes. Teacher’s materials and additional information on Kansas corn
and sorghum can be found at
3-23-10--National Sorghum Checkoff
Program at Mid-America Farm Expo, Salina
The National Sorghum Checkoff Program (NSCP), will be among more than
325 exhibits at the 45th Annual Mid-America Farm Exposition March 23-25
in Salina, Kan.
The National Sorghum Checkoff has proved valuable due to declining
sorghum acres and production over the past years along with decreased
private investment in sorghum. The NSCP was created to bridge technology
gaps and improve the profitability of the sorghum industry through
research, promotion and information. For more information o the National
Sorghum Checkoff, visit
The Board of Directors of the NSCP is represented well by Kansas
growers. Bill Greving of Prairie View, serves as Chair and Jeff Casten
of Quenemo, serves as Secretary of the Board. Members of the board also
include Gary Kilgore of Chanute, Earl Roemer of Healy, and Greg Shelor,
3-10-10--Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers Discuss Hot Topics at 2010 Commodity
Grain sorghum farmers heard tips on improving their yields, technology
that will provide over the top grass and weed control and the role of
sorghum in the ethanol industry at the 2010 Commodity Classic.
Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers Association members and staff joined over
4,000 of the country’s top sorghum, corn, soybean, and wheat producers
and representatives from leading agribusinesses at the Commodity Classic
in Anaheim, Calif.
The General Session of the National Sorghum Producers (NSP) featured
Kansas grower, Gerald Long of Clifton, Kan., who placed second mulch
till, non-irrigated division in the National Sorghum Yield and
Management Contest. Long sat on a panel along with two other winners to
discuss his farming practices and answer questions from the audience.
Long uses no-till practices and told the audience that he doesn’t treat
his sorghum as a second crop.
“I fertilize my sorghum at the same rate as my dryland corn,” he
explained. Long said in his area, a dryland sorghum yield of 150 bushels
per acre should be the norm, not the exception.
Producers learned that sorghum seed with non-GMO over the top grass and
weed control technology could hit market in two to three years. DuPont
Crop Protection’s Wayne Schumacher, said the work of Kansas State
University funded by the Kansas grain sorghum checkoff was key to the
development of over the new sorghum traits. He credited the United
Sorghum Checkoff Program for their work to bringing the effort together.
Schumacher said growers should see at least one trait on the market in
2012. The non-GMO seed traits would provide tolerance to ALS and
“This isn’t just about weed control in sorghum. We are looking at how we
manage weed control on the whole farm enterprise, helping the total
rotation,” Schumacher said. “Bringing new actives for sorghum will help
break resistance problems for the entire rotation.”
Growers also heard about the prospects for continued growth in the use
of sorghum in ethanol production. Most ethanol produced in Kansas in
2009 was made from grain sorghum.
"As much as a third of grain sorghum production is going to be utilized
for ethanol production in the near future," according to John Ashworth
of National Bioenergy Center. "Plus, I see huge potential for the use of
forage sorghum for cellulosic ethanol production as we improve the
technology for this process."
Sorghum Check Board Chairman, Bill Greving of Prairie View, Kan. said
grain sorghum is giving corn a run for its money as a viable source for
ethanol production. Greving said in the past year, the price
differential has greatly benefited the bottom line of ethanol plants
using grain sorghum as a feedstock.
The 2010 Commodity Classic provided growers an opportunity to discuss
and promote agriculture by bringing producers and media staff together.
Throughout the event, Kansas growers played a key role in discussing
efforts to promote positive images of the sorghum industry while
advocating for public policy that provides and maintains opportunities
2-15-10--Kansas Corn and Sorghum Join in
By DeEtta Bohling, KCGA/KGSPA Communications Specialist
Agriculture has found a place within social media. The Kansas Corn
Growers Association (KCGA) and the Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers
Association (KGSPA) join thousands of people discussing agriculture each
2009 was a year of change and growth for social media sites. According
to Computerworld Magazine, Facebook has more visitors than any other
social networking site. Facebook finished 2009 with 112 million visitors
and Twitter finished the year with 20 million visitors, up from just 2
million in 2008.
“When we are posting on social media sites, we don’t just talk about
grains. We also work to support our customers, like livestock and
biofuels, as well as products our farmers rely upon, like the herbicide
atrazine. Agriculture is often under attack on social media sites and
it’s up to us to share accurate information,” according to Sue Schulte,
director of communications for KCGA and KGSPA.
Ag media, associations, farm organizations, agri-businesses, farmers,
and consumers are discussing and learning from each other. Tom Tibbits,
a farmer from Minneapolis, Kansas, shares his knowledge and experiences
through Facebook, Twitter, and his blog.
“Social media is a tool to connect with both farmers and non farmers. We
can have conversations our farms and farming practices and reassure
people that we are good stewards of the land and natural resources while
providing safe food,” says Tibbits.
Tibbits tells farmers to “Talk about your farm. Let your defenses down
when asked a hot button topic such as antibiotic use in livestock or
biotech crops. People want to learn more about them.” Tibbits’ blog can
be found at http://farmertimes.blogspot.com/
“Social media sites are an innovative way to communicate with the world.
If farmers don’t tell their story now, activist groups will. People now
turn to social media to gain information and form opinions. As farmers,
I encourage you to take a little time to create an online presence. This
is a business decision—a decision to help protect your livelihood,” says
DeEtta Bohling, KCGA and KGSPA communications specialist.
1-21-10--AGRICULTURE GROUPS DEFEND ATRAZINE
AGAINST AGENDA-DRIVEN ATTACKS
53 groups representing tens of thousands of farmers in nearly every
state and commodity call for decisions based on science, not politics
Washington, D.C. – A broad coalition of agriculture groups have written
to Lisa Jackson, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency,
in defense of the herbicide atrazine, which has become the target of a
coordinated attack by environmental groups seeking to eliminate its use.
See copy of the letter to the EPA here:
Atrazine, a critical tool in growing crops as diverse as corn, sorghum,
sugar cane, and citrus, has been used safely in over 60 countries for 50
The EPA will begin a re-re-evaluation of atrazine as part of a series of
Scientific Advisory Panels, which will begin on February 2nd. Recent
media events by agenda-driven organizations such as the Natural
Resources Defense Council, Land Stewardship Project and Pesticide Action
Network North America suggest a coordinated campaign to call atrazine’s
safety into question and politicize what should be a scientific process.
In fact, in an unprecedented move, the EPA itself identified NRDC
material as part of its justification to launch the new review.
“We want to set the record straight on the agriculture community’s broad
support of this very effective herbicide that has been used by farmers
for more than 50 years,” said Jere White, executive director of the
Kansas corn and grain sorghum growers associations. “Atrazine is used on
more than one-half of all U.S. corn and two-thirds of sorghum. It is one
of the primary elements that make American agriculture so phenomenally
productive. Every EPA Administration since the EPA was founded –
Republican and Democrat – has endorsed atrazine’s safety and that is why
we join together to pledge our support and confidence in this product.”
“Atrazine is the foundation for weed control programs in Florida
sugarcane and has withstood thorough scientific testing in the U.S. and
around the world,” said James M. Shine, Jr., Agriculture Division Vice
President for Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida. “Extensive
research conducted by scientists inside and outside the government have
weighed all the data and concluded that it is safe for the environment,
human health, and crop protection. Our communities should feel confident
that rigorous science has determined its safety.” It is estimated that
atrazine is used in 90 percent of U.S. sugar cane production.
"The use of atrazine and the triazine family herbicides in citrus
production have dramatically reduced the need for cultivation and water
applications, provided protection against freeze damage, and created a
better quality product," said Joel Nelsen, President of California
Citrus Mutual. "Their loss would have a devastating impact on our
The coalition of agriculture groups will be actively involved in the EPA
re-evaluation of atrazine and will insist that transparent,
peer-reviewed science utilizing accepted practices govern regulatory
For more information on this coalition or on atrazine, please contact
Sue Schulte at email@example.com or 785-448-6922.
Over 50 Ag Groups Call on EPA to Continue to Use Science, Not
Politics in Atrazine Review
Jan. 15, 2010--Agricultural groups from Kansas and across the nation
signed onto a letter to EPA clarifying growers’ support for atrazine.
The letter was sent to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson today. Earlier
this month, environmental activist groups submitted a letter to EPA
saying growers oppose the use of atrazine.
“It is truly disheartening when political agendas attempt to overturn
scientific process,” the letter states. “Such is the case in the January
5th letter submitted to the EPA by a handful of special interest groups
misrepresenting themselves as the voice of the agriculture community in
an attempt to negate the overwhelming support and confidence in the
herbicide atrazine and to gain media attention for themselves.”
Jere White, executive director of the Kansas corn and grain sorghum
growers associations said farmers have been involved in EPA’s reviews of
atrazine since the mid-1990s. The groups that signed the letter in
support of atrazine represent a very large number of farmers and
“Over 50 national, state, and local grower and agricultural groups
signed on to this letter which reaffirms their support of the use of
atrazine. These groups represent hundreds of thousands of farmers from
Hawaii to Pennsylvania,” White said. “Many of these grower groups have
been involved in the EPA’s repeated studies and reviews of atrazine for
more than 15 years. I don’t think the environmental activist groups
understand that there are trade-offs. For example, removing atrazine
would actually hinder many of our row crop farmers’ efforts to use
conservation no-till and reduced-till practices. Without atrazine, many
would have to return to tilling their land, increasing the risk of
erosion and runoff.”
The groups signing the letter asked EPA to understand that the majority
of farmers support the use of atrazine and asked EPA to use science, not
politics, to arrive at a decision on the safety of atrazine.
The letter states: “Our growers have actively participated in the
process and supported the safety and scientific approval of atrazine by
the EPA over the last fifteen years and three White House
Administrations. Mainstream agriculture has participated in every
Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP) concerning atrazine since the beginning
of the Special Review in 1994. As stated clearly to the November 3, 2009
SAP, we strongly believe the scientific weight of evidence, based on
EPA's own analysis for decades, shows atrazine to be both safe and
effective and that it is the best kind of tool that farmers can have.
We are troubled by the activist forces that seem to be guiding the very
intensive and urgent re-evaluation (actually a re-re-evaluation) of
atrazine despite its recently completed re-registration, which provided
for its continued safe use.
. . . The benefits of atrazine use to agriculture are well documented
and part of existing EPA record. Recent efforts to downplay these
benefits in the media are simply the wishes of activists who suggest
they have better insight on producing abundant food, fuel and fiber from
their comfortable desk than the farmer who has been doing it all his
life. It should be noted that our farmers consider themselves the
ultimate conservationists, for without the careful cultivation of their
land...their own livelihoods are at risk.”
Read the Ag Groups' Letter to EPA Here
1-14-10--Kansas Sorghum Growers Recognized Nationally in Yield
The National Sorghum Producers (NSP) has announced winners of its 2009
Sorghum Yield and Management Contest. Kansas sorghum growers are among
the cream of the crop and are showcasing some of the nation’s best
Gerald Simonsen, chairman of the NSP Board of Directors, congratulated
the winners, saying that each farmer who entered the contest brought a
great value to the competition.
“These winning yields represent high personal achievement for these
farmers,” said Simonsen. “Every producer who entered the contest was
measured against a county average yield, which levels the playing field
and ensures that the contest honors the best yields compared to local
averages and conditions. Producers who choose to enter the NSP Yield and
Management contest represent a commitment to this crop and the business
The NCP yield contest varies from many other contests. The contest
levels the playing field by scoring a contestant’s yield against his
county’s 5-year county average yield.
Ki Gamble, of Kiowa County, was awarded second place in the Reduced-Till
Irrigated with a yield of 210.73 bushels per acre, beating the county
yield by 107.73 bushels per acre. Stanely Brandyberry Farms, of Graham
County received second place in the No-Till Non-Irrigated category with
a yield of 165.16 bushels per acre, beating the county average by 105.36
bushels per acre. From Saline County, Clayton and Louanne Short obtained
second place in the Conventional-Till Non-Irrigaged category with a
yield of 170.32 bushels per acre and surpassing the county average by
101.02 bushels per acre. In the Conventional-Till Irrigated category,
Bibb-Nighswonger, of Comanche County, received third place with a yield
of 197.75 bushels per acre which was 115.45 bushels per acre over the
National, state and county yield contest winners will be honored with a
dinner at Commodity Classic in Anaheim, California on March 5, 2010. In
addition, winners will receive plaques and first place national winners
will be highlighted in the Spring issue of Sorghum Grower magazine.
Kansas overall sorghum production was estimated at 224.4 million
bushels, up from 214.5 in 2008. Full contest results are posted at
11-6-09--Kansas Corn, Sorghum Groups Boost Outreach Efforts with New
GARNETT, Kansas (Nov. 6, 2009)- DeEtta Bohling from Greenfield, Iowa
recently joined the Kansas Corn Growers Association and Kansas Grain
Sorghum Producers Association as Communications and Marketing Associate.
The associations represent Kansas sorghum and corn producers in
legislative and regulatory issues.
“Our goal was to find a
person who could help us beef up our communications efforts while
boosting our association’s internet presence, especially in social
media,” according to KCGA/KGSPA Director of Communications Sue Schulte.
“DeEtta is a great fit and brings a lot of enthusiasm and knowledge in
Bohling is a 2009
graduate from Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa. Here she received her
Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Arts with an emphasis in Public
Relations. She received a minor in Business Administration and a
Leadership Education Program certificate.
Bohling has been an
active member of 4-H, FFA, Adair County Youth Action Committee, Friends
of the Library, Wartburg College Student Senate, Entertainment ToKnight,
the Volunteer Action Center, Tower Agency Public Relations, Wartburg
Television, and served as an ambassador for Wartburg College.
In 2003, Bohling
received the Iowa Governor’s Youth Leadership Award. In 2004 she was
inducted into the Iowa Volunteer Hall of Fame and in 2007 she was
awarded with a Wartburg College Nobility Award for her service and
Before joining the Kansas corn and sorghum associations, Bohling was the
Marketing and Social Networking intern for the Iowa 4-H Foundation in
Comments on FIFRA SAP on Atrazine Review
November 3, 2009
Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, my name is Jere White. I am the
executive director of the Kansas Corn Growers Association and Kansas
Grain Sorghum Producers Association and also serve as chairman of the
Triazine Network. My expenses to be here are covered by Kansas farmers.
The Triazine Network was formed in 1995 as a response by growers of over
30 commodities and from over forty states, to provide input to the US
EPA special review of the triazine herbicides. Our objective is to
ensure that EPA has and utilizes the best science. That's why we are
here today. We have participated in every SAP concerning atrazine since
the beginning of the Special Review in 1994. We believe the scientific
weight of evidence shows atrazine to be both safe and effective and that
is the best kind of tool that farmers can have.
Last month EPA announced their decision to pursue a very intensive and
urgent reevaluation (actually a re-reevaluation) of atrazine, in
disregard to it’s recently completed reregistration which provided for
its continued safe use. It clearly appears the normal process which
included internal review (i.e. data evaluation records) of new studies
by EPA, and when deemed appropriate, a further review by its SAP, has
been cast away. It seems now that the an NRDC seeded story in the New
York Times is all the peer review needed in order to tee up a minimum of
five SAPs in just over a year (four indicated in the FR Notice and a
minimum of one additional in FY-2011 indicated in the Agency's
stakeholder conference call).
The Agency describes this as a "kickoff" meeting which was certainly new
terminology in my fifteen years of participation. This seems highly
unusual. Perhaps even festive and goal oriented.
Some countries abandon science in their process and subscribe to a
precautionary principal that puts at risk their own people. The benefits
of atrazine to agriculture are well documented and part of existing EPA
record. Recent efforts to downplay the benefits in the media are simply
the wishes of activists who suggest they have better insight on
producing abundant food, fuel and fiber from their comfortable desk than
the farmer who has been doing it all his life. It should be noted that
farmers have been some of the best early adopters.
The Triazine Network is disappointed that there appears to be a major
departure in process at EPA in regards to the recently announced SAPs
re-reassessing atrazine. However, we commit to engage all processes and
all options in order to see a science based outcome continue during all
Administrations and keep all those we represent and all that represent
us informed of the progress.
2009--Grower Leaders Voice Atrazine Support
Growers from Kansas and four other states left their combines this
week to talk to leadership from Syngenta Crop Protection about the
importance of atrazine to their farming operations. A roundtable
meeting was held at the National Corn Growers Association office in
Chesterfield, MO, followed by an informal meeting at the Keith Witt
farm in Warrenton, MO.
While atrazine was successfully re-registered by EPA in 2006, recent
attacks by environmental activists including the Natural Resources
Defense Council (NRDC) have brought the issue to the forefront. Trial
attorneys also continue their efforts for legal action against the
makers of atrazine.
Growers represented at the meeting included four past NCGA Presidents:
Ron Litterer, Iowa; Ken McCauley, Kansas; Dee Vaughan, Texas and Fred
Yoder, Ohio. Three past presidents of the National Sorghum Producers
were present: Greg Shelor, Kansas; James Vorderstrasse, Nebraska, and
Bill Kubecka, Texas.
Atrazine is used to help farmers grow crops in a way that protects the
environment, especially with no-till practices, McCauley said.
“Environmental activists would like you to believe that farmers don’t
need atrazine, so we might as well get rid of it. Nothing could be
further from the truth. Not only is it important to our growers’
bottom lines, it is vital to the practices we use to protect the
environment,” McCauley said. “The NRDC says we can use another
chemical, but ask NRDC what chemicals they do approve of.”
Southwest Kansas sorghum producer Greg Shelor told the group that his
no-till practices would not be possible without atrazine. “I can’t
no-till without atrazine,” he said. “With no-till there is not near
the runoff and without no-till I will have 50 or 60 bushel sorghum
instead of the 100 to 120 bushels I have now.”
Iowa grower Ron Litterer said many people don’t understand atrazine’s
role in reducing rates of herbicides. “For me atrazine is an enhancer
for weed control. Years ago, my dad used it as his sole product. Now
we use much lower rates and have better weed control. As an enhancer,
atrazine has allowed us to reduce the rates of other chemicals and has
made them more effective.”
Atrazine allows Nebraska sorghum farmer James Vorderstrasse to use
moisture conserving no-till practices on his farm. “There is no
alternative to atrazine,” he said. “Every time you till the soil you
lose an inch of moisture. Without atrazine, you’d have to till two or
three times pre-plant plus cultivate a couple of times and that
amounts to a loss of 5 inches of moisture.”
Ohio Grower Fred Yoder said atrazine has been important to his family
farm for years. “I’m trying to remember if we have ever grown corn
without atrazine. It’s been around such a long time. But does that
mean we need to look at something else? I don’t think so,” he said.
Syngenta CEO Mike Mack and President of Crop Protection Valdemar
Fischer participated in the roundtable discussion by phone. Travis
Dickinson, Vice President of Marketing; Tim Pastoor, Principal
Scientist; Steven Goldsmith Senior Communications Manager and Todd
Barlow, State Government Relations Manager participated in a meeting
with growers at the National Corn Growers Association offices in
Chesterfield, MO. The Syngenta executives reaffirmed their commitment
to defending the use of atrazine.
9-11-09--Kansas Sorghum to Hit Record Yield in 2009 Crop
The September 11 crop production report pegs the Kansas grain sorghum crop
at 221.4 million bushels with a record yield of 82 bushels per acre.
Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers Association Executive Director Jere White
said the sorghum crop looks good across the state.
“All you have to do is drive down the road to see the quality of this
year’s sorghum crop. You can see some beautiful sorghum fields across the
state,” White said. “Sorghum has always been a popular choice for Kansas
growers because it can produce a crop in the worst years. This year, it is
really shining because of the excellent conditions throughout the growing
season in most parts of the state.”
Efforts are underway to improve sorghum through research funded by the
United Sorghum Checkoff Program. The checkoff completed its first year of
existence in July. Research is a priority with the checkoff which hopes to
make sorghum more profitable by improving genetics and making improvements
in areas like cold tolerance, nitrogen use, and new herbicide options.
The U.S. sorghum harvest is expected to be at 389.6 million bushels, with
a national yield of 65.5 bushels per acre. Kansas is the leading producer
of grain sorghum, and will harvest more than 56 percent of the nation’s
crop this year.
Sorghum remains an important part of many Kansas growers’ crop rotations
and is valued by ethanol plants and livestock producers and has a strong
The Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers Association is a member-based
organization that represents growers on the state and national level. For
more information, visit www.ksgrains.com.
8-25-09--Kansas Growers Say Activist Groups
Twist EPA Atrazine Data to Alarm Consumers
Three media events on
August 23-24 highlighted activists’ efforts to raise public concern
about the herbicide atrazine. The New York Times, Huffington Post and
National Resources Defense Council all release reports about atrazine
on Sunday and Monday. The stories were based on data from a monitoring
program that Syngenta, the maker of atrazine, entered into with EPA in
2003. The Atrazine Monitoring Program (AMP) is an intensive monitoring
program currently focusing on about 100 community water systems
located primarily in the Midwest.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s maximum contaminant level (MCL)
for atrazine at 3 parts per billion (ppb) based on an annual average
in public drinking water. Atrazine is among a list of 87 drinking
water contaminants routinely monitored by the EPA. Jere White,
executive director of the Kansas Corn Growers Association and Kansas
Grain Sorghum Producers Association said results of the two testing
programs should not be used to confuse consumers. READ MORE!
“The focus of the AMP program is different than the normal water
sampling that is done to determine the annual MCL for drinking water
systems,” White said. “This study is focused on areas with higher
atrazine usage—basically a closer look. The EPA set a guideline under
this program of 37.5 ppb atrazine plus three metabolites (breakdown
products) over a 90-day period as a benchmark for a level of concern.”
The activist groups used two sets of data to cause concern among
consumers, White said.
“You can do anything with numbers. There are spikes, but those spikes
were taken into consideration by EPA when the 3 parts per billion
annual drinking water level for atrazine was set. That’s why it is an
annual average and not a daily or weekly number. But to then take data
from an entirely different program, and suggest that the levels were
above the EPA’s MCL for atrazine is simply misleading.”
In its July 2009 update, EPA stated, “Through its review of this data,
the Agency has confirmed that none of the systems have exceeded OPP's
level of concern, a 90-day average of 37.5 parts per billion (ppb) of
atrazine and its degradates. Concentrations below this 90-day average
are considered to be safe.”
“If you look at the data, you see that atrazine levels in raw
(untreated) water have decreased. Farmers are using practices that
reduce the amount of runoff from fields, and that keeps chemicals out
of surface water,” White said. “This is actually very good news, which
has gone unreported.”
Atrazine is crucial to the success of no-till farming operations that
have a wide range of environmental benefits. No-till is a practice
that leaves crop residue, like corn stalks, in the field to cut down
on soil erosion and runoff of fertilizers and farm chemicals.
“When you talk about soil conservation and reducing runoff, you have
to talk about no-till farming practices,” White said. “This practice
is making a real difference when it comes to conservation. But many
growers say without residual weed control that atrazine offers, they
would not be able to continue their no-till practices. Farmers have a
good story to tell, producing more with less. For example, look at
what corn producers have done in the last 10 years. For the same
bushel of corn produced in 1987, today our land use is down 37
percent, soil loss is down 69 percent.”
For more information and
background on this issue, visit this
4-24-09--Growers Say Out of State Trial
Attorneys Miss the Point in Kansas Atrazine Lawsuit
Two out-of-state law firms are now saying that two Kansas grower groups are
simply trying to protect the financial success of a Swiss chemical company
after the corn and grain sorghum associations blew the whistle on an effort
to sign up Kansas towns to join a lawsuit against the maker of atrazine.
Nothing could be farther from the truth, according to Jere White, executive
director of the Kansas Corn Growers Association and Kansas Grain Sorghum
Producers Association. Instead, corn and sorghum farmers are working to
protect access to an important herbicide that has been safely used to
control weeds on Kansas farms for years.
“The financial success we are concerned about is a lot closer to home. It is
in the corn and sorghum fields of Marion County, Kansas,” White said. “A
frivolous lawsuit like this can result in taking atrazine off the shelves in
Kansas and throughout farm country. That would have far reaching
consequences with our growers who rely on atrazine for weed control and
KCGA and KGSPA were surprised to learn earlier this month that the farming
communities of Hillsboro and Marion had signed on to a lawsuit against the
makers of atrazine alleging contamination of their drinking water. Atrazine
levels in the drinking water of both cities are well below the 3 parts per
billion drinking water standard set by the Environmental Protection Agency.
In a statement to the media, the trial attorney firms of Baron and Budd,
P.C. and Korein Tillery claimed that Kansas corn and sorghum farmers are
only interested in protecting the financial interests of a Swiss company.
“Law firms whose office locations include Dallas, Chicago, Beverly Hills and
St. Louis are claiming that they are just trying to protect the little guy
in Marion County? I find that hard to swallow,” White said.
According to published reports, the law firms, headquartered in Dallas and
St. Louis, will retain a third to a half of all the winnings if the lawsuit
“It sounds to me like these big city lawyers are the ones protecting their
financial interests in this case,” White said. “They are in Kansas trolling
for water systems to sign on to their lawsuit because it is in their
financial interest to do so.”
Kansas farmers use atrazine to control broadleaf weeds in corn and sorghum.
Growers have funded research in Kansas to develop best management practices
that help keep atrazine on the fields and away from sources of drinking
water. In addition, atrazine is a crucial tool for conservation tillage in
“We’re in this to protect our growers’ interests,” White said. “Atrazine is
a safe, effective and affordable herbicide that helps our growers control
weeds in their crops. What’s more, our growers are using practices that are
keeping the levels of atrazine well below EPA’s drinking water standard.
That means even according to EPA’s extremely strict standards, atrazine at
these levels presents no threat to drinking water.”
The trial attorneys have told cities they are only after compensation from a
foreign herbicide maker and no one else will be hurt by this lawsuit.
“I’m not so sure that is true,” White asserted. “The contract entered into
by the cities of Marion and Hillsboro states that damages may be sought not
only from the maker of atrazine, but also anyone who sells it. They are
talking about the ag retailers in our state, the local dealers like farmers
cooperatives who provide our farmers with their crop protection tools.”
The Baron and Budd and Korein Tillery law firms asserted that cities are
required to add filtration systems just to get atrazine levels within
“If your atrazine levels are well within the federal standards anyway, why
would you invest in new filtration systems to meet those standards,” White
said. “Their premise is flawed in that they believe water should be
completely free of all levels of contaminants. The list of contaminants that
EPA monitors is six pages long with a total of 87 contaminants with maximum
contaminant levels designated. That’s good news for Baron and Budd and
Korein Tillery—once they are done with atrazine, they have a lot of other
moneymakers to go after.”
The trial attorneys in their statement asserted that Syngenta, one of the
makers of atrazine is boosting its efforts to sell the herbicide in the U.S.
since they no longer sell it in Europe.
“I listen to a lot of ag radio and read a lot of ag publications, and I
can’t remember the last time I heard or saw an ad for atrazine,” White said.
“It’s an ingredient in several herbicide products, but you just don’t see
companies out there pushing atrazine on our farmers. Ads are focused on
newer technologies. Farmers are already aware of atrazine because they have
used it safely for years.”
City officials claim that their communities’ drinking water is safe, but are
seeking damages in a lawsuit that claims that atrazine at any level makes
drinking water unsafe.
“Hillsboro and Marion are suing on the assumption that the drinking water is
contaminated with atrazine. The cities signed on to the lawsuit over
drinking water contamination, but then say their water is safe. They are
right, their water is safe because atrazine levels are far below the federal
drinking water standard. So why are they in this lawsuit?”
The law firms also commend the cities for their compliance with the Kansas
Open Records Act and Kansas Open Meetings Act. The growers associations have
formally requested that the Marion County Attorney’s office investigate
alleged violations of the open meetings and records act.
“It shouldn’t take almost a month and filing a formal complaint to get
public documents,” White said. “If these out-of-state law firms think that
is commendable, maybe they need to become more familiar with Kansas law.”
The growers associations are continuing their dialogue with cities and water
systems in Kansas. “We are encouraging cities and other water systems to
talk to the experts at EPA or the Kansas Department of Health and
Environment before jumping onto the trial attorneys’ bandwagon,” White said.
4-23-09--City of Hillsboro Supplies Atrazine
Lawsuit Records to Growers Associations
After nearly a month of efforts, the Kansas Corn Growers Association and
Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers Association received information used by the
Marion and Hillsboro city councils when they joined a lawsuit against the
makers of the herbicide atrazine.
On April 13, the associations asked the Marion County Attorney to
investigate alleged violations of the Kansas Open Records Act, and the
Kansas Open Meetings Act by the cities of Marion and Hillsboro. The city
councils met in a closed session last month to discuss entering into a
lawsuit against the manufacturers of atrazine. Later, both cities voted in
open sessions to join the lawsuit being initiated by the Texas law firm
Baron and Budd, P.C.
“I made an informal request to Hillsboro city manager Larry Paine for
certain meeting materials on March 27. On April 2, I mailed to both cities a
formal request asking for the materials in accordance with the Kansas Open
Records Act,” White said. “The City of Marion denied the existence of
documents, and the City of Hillsboro denied us access, although the
documents were given to the local newspaper. This led to our request to the
Marion County Attorney for an investigation into open records and meetings
The associations received the requested materials from the City of Hillsboro
on April 23. The City of Marion has told us through their legal counsel that
certain requested items were not retained after the March 12 meeting.
It is a fundamental right to all Kansans to have access to records and
meetings of their elected officials in a timely manner. The state law gives
only a small set of circumstances in which access may be denied and the
state law requires that public bodies respond to an open records request
within three business days.
“We began requesting these materials nearly a month ago, and we were ignored
until we asked for an investigation by the county attorney,” White said.
The growers associations are hoping other communities that are contacted
make better informed decisions on the atrazine lawsuit.
“We are trying to let other communities know about this issue so they can
make informed decisions on whether to join the lawsuit, urging them to talk
to experts at EPA or the Kansas Department of Health and Environment who
understand the drinking water standards,” White said.
In his request to the Marion County Attorney, White also questioned the
legality of the two councils meeting together in a closed session to discuss
the lawsuit. To date, the Marion County Attorney has not responded to the
association’s request, but County Attorney Susan Robson told the Marion
County Record that she is looking into the matter.
“Regardless of the recent receipt of materials, we fully expect that the
issue of compliance with our states “sunshine” laws will be explored and
determined,” added White. “Citizens should not have to jump through so many
hoops to have access to public documents.”
4-14-09--Kansas Growers Ask Marion
County Attorney to Investigate Open Records, Open Meeting
The Marion County Attorney has been asked to investigate
alleged violations of the Kansas Open Records Act, and the
Kansas Open Meetings Act by the cities of Marion and
Hillsboro. Kansas Corn Growers Association Executive Director
Jere White made the request on Monday. The city councils of
Marion and Hillsboro met in a closed session last month to
discuss whether to enter into a lawsuit against the
manufacturers of atrazine, a herbicide used by corn and grain
White requested from both cities copies of all materials
relating to the health effects of atrazine that were provided
to the Councils. The City of Hillsboro did not respond to the
formal request, but in response to an earlier informal
request, City Administrator Larry Paine said the documents
were reviewed in executive session and were protected by
attorney-client privilege. The City of Marion denied the
existence of any documents.
“Although one city official denied the existence of documents,
and another denied us access, these documents were provided to
the local media,” White said. “You can’t pick and choose. You
can’t deny one person the documents, and then give them to
White also requested and did not receive a response to his
request for a copy of the contract that the City of Hillsboro
entered into with the law firm. In his letter to the county
attorney, Susan Hobson, White also challenged the legality
under the Kansas Open Meetings Act for two separate councils
to meet together in executive session.
“I’ve served in local government myself and I understand how
important it is to follow the open records and open meetings
laws,” White said. “We have tried to do things properly by
making formal requests for information to the cities. When we
were denied or ignored, we talked to the Kansas Attorney
General’s office which recommended asking the Marion County
Attorney to investigate the matter.”
The Kansas Corn Growers Association and Kansas Grain Sorghum
Producers Association became involved when the two cities
agreed to join in a lawsuit against the makers of atrazine.
Both towns’ water systems fall well below the 3 parts per
billion drinking water standard for atrazine. City officials
were reportedly told that atrazine is more dangerous at even
lower levels. White, who has been involved in EPA’s Special
Review of atrazine since 1995, said he had not heard any
substantiated research to back those claims.
“Basically you’ve got trial attorneys looking to make some
money by convincing people their drinking water is unsafe,”
White said. “EPA sets stringent standards for safe drinking
water and the water that is provided to the people of Marion
and Hillsboro is well within those standards. Instead of
taking the word of these Texas trial attorneys, the city
councils should have also consulted with the Kansas Department
of Health and Environment or EPA.”
4-2-09--Kansas Farming Communities
Targeted by Trial Attorneys for Atrazine Lawsuit
News that two Kansas agricultural communities have signed on
as participants in a class action lawsuit against the maker of
the farm herbicide atrazine came as both a surprise and a
disappointment to the Kansas Corn Growers Association and the
Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers Association. The cities of
Hillsboro and Marion were selected by a group of Texas trial
lawyers seeking drinking water systems to sign on to their
Jere White, executive director of KCGA and KGSPA has been
involved with atrazine issues on a national level since 1995
when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began a
Special Review of the triazine herbicides including atrazine.
“What concerns me is that these city councils only heard
one-sided information provided by the Texas law firm of Baron
and Budd, which will reportedly collect a third of any
winnings of the lawsuit,” White said. “Why not also get
information from experts that don’t have a monetary interest,
like Kansas Department of Health and Environment or EPA?”
In 2006, the Environmental Protection Agency gave a favorable
risk assessment to the triazine herbicides including atrazine
concluding that they pose no harm that would result to the
general U.S. population, infants, children or other consumers.
After the EPA’s positive science-based findings on atrazine,
activists have turned to the legal system in hopes of finding
another way to ban the herbicide, White said.
“When we became involved in the Special Review of atrazine, we
simply wanted EPA to make a decision on scientific fact
regardless of the outcome,” he said. “Now the debate has moved
into the legal arena, where fear and misinformation can
sometimes carry more weight than proven scientific fact. EPA
assembled numerous expert science panels to review and advisee
the agency in its decision. Their science is sound.”
Media reports state that the city officials were told their
communities had nothing to lose by getting involved in the
“From reading the news reports, it appears the councils had
been convinced that no one loses in this lawsuit except for a
big foreign-owned chemical company. That could not be further
from the truth. Farmers rely on atrazine for safe and
economical weed control, and lawsuits like this threaten their
ability to buy and use this product. Any costs incurred with
this lawsuit will be borne by farmers, regardless of the
outcome,” White said. “The Texas trial attorneys made it sound
like the lottery—but the jackpot will go to Baron and Budd.”
Water testing shows that both communities fall well below the
3 parts per billion standard for atrazine in drinking water.
This Federal standard is an annual average based on lifetime
exposure. However, Hillsboro city manager Larry Paine was
quoted in news stories saying that even lower levels of
atrazine are a concern to public health, claiming that lower
levels seem to be more dangerous to higher levels.
“I have personally been involved in the EPA Special Review and
Reregistration of atrazine since 1995. I have heard a lot of
wild claims, but I have never heard anything like that,” White
said. “EPA performed a science-based review of atrazine that
spanned well over a decade and concluded that atrazine does
not pose a risk even at levels three times higher than those
reported at Hillsboro.”
Communities and their water systems also have a stake in
making sure that water standards are science-based.
“It is in the best interest of water systems and to public
safety to have standards that are set by science-based
methods, rather than litigation,” White said. “Water systems
themselves add chemicals to the water to make it safe to
drink. Those water disinfectants create contaminants, yet
within the standards, they are considered safe. If
science-based standards are not protective in the eyes of
Hillsboro and Marion city leaders, how can they expect their
constituents to accept their assurance that their drinking
water is safe? Water consumed by their citizens will always
contain more than hydrogen and oxygen.”
Cities should be wary of trial lawyer’s tactics and seek
information from a neutral party, like KDHE or EPA. “There are
volumes of peer reviewed science available on atrazine that
were generated throughout EPA’s Special Review of the triazine
herbicides, which include atrazine,” White said. “Our growers
have worked for years to make sure that we are using atrazine
responsibly on our fields. We have funded research at K-State
to establish and implement practices to keep atrazine from
running off our fields into rivers and streams. Now we have
trial attorneys from Texas coming to our rural Kansas towns
and apparently feeding them a lot of misinformation to get
them to sign on to their lawsuit. Cities and other water
systems in Kansas should use diligence if approached by trial
attorneys on any issue, including this one.”
Growers Excel in NSP Yield Contest
Kansas had a first or second place winner
in each of the major categories in NSP's
Yield and Management Contest. Contestants entered the contest in one of
five production categories, and each entry must have harvested for contest
purposes a plot of at least five contiguous sorghum acres. The Yield
Contest is hosted annually by NSP to recognize outstanding production
practices and yield accomplishments by sorghum growers nationwide.
year’s national winners from Kansas include: In the Conventional-Till
Irrigated Category, Ki Gamble, of Kiowa County placing second; in
Conventional-Till Non-Irrigated, Clayton and Louanne Short of Saline
County placing second; in Mulch-Till Non-Irrigated, Steve Richard of Cloud
County, Kansas placing first; in No-Till Non-Irrigated, Jarrod Spillman of
Sheridan County, Kansas; and in Reduced-Till Irrigated, Roger Johnson of
SheridanCounty placing 2nd. Mike Fischer of Thayer County, Nebraska took
home the first place price nationally in the Food Grade category.
national winner will receive a trophy and will also be honored at a dinner
at Commodity Classic with the NSP Board of Directors and staff. A
breakfast awards ceremony for all county, state and national honorees will
be held during Commodity Classic, the premier convention and trade show of
the U.S. sorghum, corn, soybean, and wheat industries. The 2008 Commodity
Classic will be held in Grapevine, Texas at the Gaylord Texan resort and
hotel February 26th through 28th, 2008.
Sorghum-specific programming begins on February 25th.
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