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CEO’s Desk So Long to 2011 W

ith 2011 in the books, it is a great time to reflect on the successes and failures of the past year. For many in the sorghum community, 2011 is one you

would just as soon forget. It has been an extremely active year for National Sorghum Producers. Even though it was not one of our most productive years, there are still a num- ber of achievements that would not have happened without the support of our members, the leadership of our board, and the shoe leather of a driven staff.

When people ask, ‘Why do we need a trade association like NSP?’ my answer is extremely clear and direct: It is to maintain a long-term, stable entity with the institutional knowledge and contacts to be able to fix problems as they arise in your industry. Regardless the year, the political party in office, or the status of the economy, there will al- ways be issues that need to be fixed. The year 2011 was the same as any other year in that regard.

We started the year with an aggressive push to finish a pathway for grain sorghum as an advanced biofuel. This process started in the summer of 2010 with the expectation that it would quickly be resolved in 2011 so we could move on to sweet sorghum and biomass sorghum pathway discus- sions. As I write this article in Dec. 2011, I can talk about the progress we have made in finding flaws in the models used to run the analysis at EPA. I can talk about the countless hours and days NSP directors, ethanol industry leaders and staff have spent traveling back and forth to D.C. However, I cannot say we have fixed the problem. The battle continues and has now turned into the third longest issue NSP has been involved with in the last 20 years — trailing only atra- zine and crop insurance price elections. The good news is that NSP has never quit or backed down, and we continue to work with many other allies to resolve the problems in this area and to achieve our goals in 2012.

The passage of the national checkoff referendum was the second priority for NSP in 2011, a program the NSP board originally proposed. The checkoff will continue to help fix problems related to increasing the profitability of sorghum.

Another success in 2011 was avoiding the loss of AMS price reporting for grain sorghum. Due to state-level budget cuts in Texas and agreements between the Texas Department of Agriculture and USDA, it became clear in the spring our in- dustry was in jeopardy of losing price reporting at several locations on the Gulf export market and at Texas Panhandle reporting sites. This is critical to the entire sorghum indus-

SORGHUM Grower Winter 2012

try as these prices represented four of the six prices used to set the price elections for sorghum. The issue went down to the final hours before the price reporting was discontinued, and we are very appreciative USDA found a way to resolve the issue and allow our industry to continue to have this important information while many other livestock groups and commodities did not fare as well.

Additionally, NSP continued to work to ensure the energy programs under the 2008 Farm Bill delivered the support that was promised under the legislation. Specifically, the Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuel (Section 9005) payments for 2010 and 2011 were distributed in September and provided millions of dollars of support to the ethanol industry for their use of sorghum as a green feedstock.

This fall saw a quite aggressive move to pass a farm bill as part of the Super Committee process. While a farm bill did not get across the finish line, NSP was actively involved in the process and worked hard to make sure the policy changes needed for grain, sweet and biomass sorghums were included in the bill. This work will position us well for the eventual passage of the next farm bill—whenever it happens.

Finally, NSP, along with many other ag groups, weighed in on the Department of Labor’s proposed rules on child labor regulation. One of my mentors once told me that whatever expectations you have for your children is likely what they will achieve. I believe that is one of the reasons why this issue bothers me so much. Farmers and ranchers take great pride in a strong work ethic tied to personal responsibility and accountability. Once again, we see an issue where the federal government is greatly overreaching in their attempt to pass regulations discouraging a strong work ethic in the name of a zero risk society. NSP leaders and members understand that the safety of farm kids is critical, and we in agriculture should be proud of the improvements in farm safety over the last few generations. However, we should be equally concerned over regulations that encourage genera- tions of kids lacking work ethic who are more than content to live off of government support.

As 2012 moves forward, know that NSP will continue to work on behalf of the producers and industry to fix prob- lems and make sorghum more profitable. We will continue to focus on the legislative and regulatory problems at hand and communicate both our successes and failures to you. Thanks for the opportunity to represent you in 2012.


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