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Q&A Q. What role does sorghum play on your farm?

A. Sorghum plays an integral role on my farm as we are dryland crop producers in a 14-inch annual rainfall zone. The crop rotations on farms in southeast Colorado depend upon grain sorghum as a critical component. Other crops grown on dryland farms in the area include forage sor- ghum, wheat, corn and sunfl owers. Of all of the choices off ered, sorghum is the most water effi cient.

Q. How has sorghum worked for you as a sus- tainable, profitable crop?

A. Sorghum competes with other summer season crops very well. While it faces some agronomic challenges (i.e.

lack of grass herbicide tolerance) it still remains the best choice when it comes to water effi ciency. We use all of the available crops to improve the sustainability of our agro- nomic system. Sorghum continues to be a low input crop suited well for our arid climate.

Q. As a farmer, you’re still weathering this drought just like all farmers across the South- west. How are you dealing with Mother Nature’s extremes?

A. In 40 years of agriculture production, I have not weath- ered a drought such as this one. It is diffi cult. The extreme

situation we are in now presents a challenge. There are several ways that producers overcome these challenges:

Crop insurance has been the primary safety net. Without this tool, the farms in the Southwest will not survive. It is imperative we work hard to maintain this important com- ponent of the food production system.

We are all containing costs to the best of our ability. Choos- ing crops that have lower input costs, such as grain and forage sorghum, have been a part of my plan.

SORGHUM Grower Fall 2011

TERRY SWANSON Walsh, Colorado with your new NSP chairman

Southeastern Colorado sorghum farmer, Terry Swanson, took the reins as chairman of the National Sorghum Producers in October. Swanson, who is coming off back-to-back terms as the organization’s vice chairman and Legislative Committee chair, has been actively involved with NSP for four years. He and his wife Marcella run their grain and forage sorghum, corn, wheat and cattle operation in Walsh, Colo.

On our particular operation, as it is with most farms in the Southwest, we are diversifying as much as possible by choosing farming practices and projects that are not ef- fected by the drought. Just being where we are makes that a diffi cult process.

It is important to do something proactive and positive every day. Serving on the NSP board has given me an op- portunity to do just that. The worst thing an individual can do is to languish in one’s own adversity.

Q. How did you first get involved with ag organizations?

A. I was a participant in the Colorado Agricultural Lead- ership Program in the mid 1980s. That program made an

impression upon me to contribute. Q. What is your vision for NSP?

A. NSP has been an organization that has shown its ability to adapt to an ever changing agricultural landscape. That landscape continues to be volatile. It is NSP’s job to keep our individual producers and our industry viable. The current grain sorghum producer is very busy and is typically in charge of a diverse ag business. To serve that individual, NSP has to continually provide leadership in the legislative, regulatory and marketing environment. To garner support from all facets of the industry from production to consump- tion is of vital importance to the viability of the organization.

Q. How important is an organization like NSP when you consider the challenges ahead for ag?

A. It is important for all components of the production system to recognize they need an organization like NSP to represent

them. NSP can be at the front of the issues. While individuals have a limited ability to garner the appropriate responses to the problems facing the industry, there is strength in numbers.


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