Sorghum is the comeback kid, NSP chairman says
By Larry Dreiling
The chairman of the board of National Sorghum Producers proclaimed he's excited about the future of his crop.
"It's an exciting place to be in, representing this industry at a time when so many good things are going on," said Toby Bostwick, a Melrose, N.M., producer, during NSP's bi-annual joint conference with the Sorghum Improvement Conference of North America.
The joint meeting was held during the recent Commodity Classic at Grapevine, Texas.
"With the beginning of the United Sorghum Checkoff Program, NSP will continue to represent farmers as they have for the last 54 years, speaking out for farmers, encouraging research and providing high quality educational materials," Bostwick said.
NSP will now be spending more of its time on representing producers in the legislative and regulatory arenas.
"We will be able to focus more of our time on what we do best," Bostwick said.
Calling sorghum the "comeback kid," Bostwick explained that U.S. sorghum acreage has increased from 6.4 million acres in 2005 to 8.3 million acres in 2008.
"This is based on the faith farmers have in this crop," Bostwick said. "Sorghum is good for our water supplies, good for input costs, good for biofuels and good for the producer's bottom line."
Bostwick said three issues will concern NSP in the next year: Retaining the farm safety net, the 2009 energy bill, and climate change legislation, adding he was concerned by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack's recent comments about replacing direct payments to producers with conservation payments.
"While we fully support conservation programs, we believe farmers rely on the safety net when commodity prices fall," Bostwick said. "A weakened farm safety net could prove disastrous to the rural economy.
"It is imperative that farmers remain in business to provide a vital commodity to the 98 percent of Americans who are not involved in production agriculture. This is the most vital line of our national defense."
Bostwick added that sorghum is an advanced biofuel crop and deserved a seat at the table in a discussion on U.S. energy policy and that, as climate change continued to be a priority to the Obama administration, sorghum producers should stand ready to prove how successful their crop is as a carbon sink.
"Farmers are already conserving in so many ways," Bostwick said, "and should be compensated for their contributions."
Larry Dreiling can be reached by phone at 785-628-1117 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.