The 2019 growing season will likely be one of those years talked about for generations in sorghum families.

“It’s been a year of years for our guys,” said Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers Association Executive Director Jesse McCurry. McCurry will speak at the Sorghum/Wheat U event, Aug. 14, in Mulvane, Kansas. He’ll update growers on the latest from the delayed planting season, to the policy changes at the state and federal levels, to what’s on the agenda for trade.

“They’re tired with the delays, they’re tired with the work load. And you can see it in their eyes,” McCurry said. “It’s not unusual for us to be planting sorghum on the Fourth of July, but we’ve been delayed past that.” These delays are likely to show up in the numbers that U.S. Department of Agriculture releases for planting and harvest expectations, he added. And it’s still to be determined how such a late planting start will affect pollination and growth in the field.

McCurry said policy and trade issues are on the forefront of everyone’s minds. He spoke July 24, during a KGSPA meeting in Garden City, Kansas. That very day USDA had announced yet another Market Facilitation Payment round of a minimum of $15 per acre, but the details were yet to be completely ironed out.

“We did have the opportunity to hear from David Schemm, state executive director for the USDA Kansas Farm Service Agency,” McCurry said. “We will continue to watch how that unfolds, the multiple payments and timelines and farm bill implementation and support our local FSA staff on those rollouts.

“Those dollars are very beneficial,” he continued. “It’s not necessarily a hand out. But with the situation we’re in, with the weather, the markets, debt, those are critical payments that are helping many farm families stay afloat.” He added that many detractors of payments may not see the larger picture.

“Our federal budget, is miniscule in terms of what goes to the USDA, and most of that goes toward food stamps,” McCurry explained. “When we’re talking farm program payments, what we’re really talking about is a safety net. There are years where crop insurance never pays out. Years where ARC or PLC don’t pay. In context with the subsidization that occurs around the world, the U.S. isn’t in trouble from an Amber Box standpoint with the WTO. There is a lot of risk in agriculture that isn’t common in other industries.”

At the state level, KGSPA is working with Gov. Laura Kelly’s new administration to educate about the critical need for sorghum research funding, and its line item in the Water Vision Plan process.

“Let’s be honest, we are the poster child for the Water Vision in terms of a crop,” McCurry said. “We know that improvements in management, in traits, in technology never seem to come fast enough. But sorghum fits into the picture.”

McCurry said Kansas sorghum growers have historically sent strong leadership to lobby on their behalf in Topeka. The meeting in Garden City recognized three leaders in sorghum for their decades of service as they retired from their respective boards of directors. Earl Roemer retired from the KGSPA, while Jay Zimmerman and Clayton Short retired from the Kansas Grain Sorghum Commission.

The work of the association and the commission is vital both on the farm and in the halls of Congress to sorghum producers. Hear more from the KGSPA and the KGSC at the 2019 Sorghum/Wheat U, Aug. 14, in Mulvane, Kansas. To register and to see the full agenda, visit www.hpj.com/suwu.

Jennifer M. Latzke can be reached at 620-227-1807 or jlatzke@hpj.com.

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