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Kansas Commodity Classic is Feb. 22

By Richard Snell

Barton County Extension Agent, agriculture

When you get an opportunity to get a big event in your own background, you need to be sure and come to the party. Often the large conferences in our state are in Topeka or Manhattan or even Kansas City. Here's one right here in Great Bend.

Sen. 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 Feb. 22 at the Highland Hotel and Convention Center in Great Bend.

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 Sen. 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."

Speakers include: U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts; Larry Combest, former House Agriculture Committee Chair; Betty Corbin, Corbin Investments, Towanda, Kan.; and 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; and 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 Agriculture Network. "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. You can also visit www.ksgrains.com/classic.

There are several other related meetings that are not a part of the main event. The 2011 Kansas Corn Dinner will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 21 at the Highland Convention Center. The corn dinner is free to all corn producers. Please RSVP separately for this at 800-489-2676. This will be followed by the Kansas Corn Growers Association annual meeting at 8 p.m. in the same location.

At 7:30 a.m. on Feb. 22 the Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers Association will hold their annual meeting at the Convention Center. All sorghum growers are encouraged to attend.

Grain sorghum referendum

All grain sorghum producers and share rent landowners that have grain sorghum acres are encouraged to vote in the National Grain Sorghum Referendum. The vote is taking place throughout the month of February at you local Farm Service Agency office.

USDA requires the conduction of a referendum within three years of checkoff assessments beginning and again in 2015. The Sorghum Check-off assessments began on July 1, 2008, and therefore the referendum must be conducted by July 2011.

The deadline to vote is Feb. 28. All sorghum producers who have grown sorghum from July 1, 2008, to Dec. 31, 2010, can vote. One vote is allowed per entity. Some examples include:

--If a producer farms as three different entities, each entity may cast one vote.

--If four family members are joint tenants, only one person is entitled to cast a ballot.

--Only producers who have a full, legal power-of-attorney may vote on behalf of their landlords. A power-of attorney for FSA-only paperwork will not allow producers to vote on behalf of their landlords.

--If a producer farms as an individual and as part of an entity, he or she may vote as an individual and on behalf of that entity.

--Cash rent landlords may not vote, but the producer can.

--Share rent landlords and the producer may both vote.

--Flex crop lease landlords and the producer may both vote.

--Forage producers may vote with proper documentation.

A ballot may be obtained at any FSA office, online at www.sorghumcheckoff.com, or by asking your FSA office to fax or mail you a ballot.

A proof of paid assessment must be returned together with the ballot to the FSA office. This receipt can be obtained at the elevator where the grain was sold. If an assessment was not paid due to harvested production not being assessed, such as drought or forage production, then a seed receipt should suffice. If there is no documentation, the ballot will be considered invalid.

Your ballot must be returned to the local FSA office, along with supporting documentation, by mail, fax or in person by Feb. 28.

Go to www.sorghumcheckoff.com or call the national checkoff program office at 877-643-8727.

The current checkoff is funded by a 0.6 percent assessment on the net market value of sorghum. That means that if a bushel of sorghum sells for $5, then 3 cents would be deducted for the checkoff.

In its first two years of operation, the Sorghum Checkoff has sponsored field plots displaying KSU/DuPont's post-emergent grass and weed control technology and promoting best management practices; worked to commercialize sorghum as a viable food product; conducted more than $2.5 million in research projects that have found potential cold and drought tolerance traits; funded studies to increase sorghum's efficiency in ethanol production; funded hybrid development projects to increase sorghum yields; and stimulated foreign purchase of thousands of tons of U.S. sorghum through trade missions in targeted countries.

A yes vote to affirm the USCP Sorghum Checkoff Program will allow these programs and others to continue in benefit to sorghum growers throughout the United States. A no vote would eliminate these efforts and take away the assessment.

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