Sorghum producers receive $65 million from USDA

Published: Sep. 26, 2022 at 4:38 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 26, 2022 at 6:42 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Sorghum is a versatile crop that can be grown as a grain, forage, or sweet crop. It is among the most efficient crops in conversion of solar energy and use of water and is known as a high-energy, drought-tolerant, resource-conserving grain. John Duff, the Sustainability Strategy Consultant for National Sorghum Producers (NSP), said it is the ultimate climate-smart crop.

”Sorghum is the climate-smart crop. It’s the resource-conserving crop. And it’s not something we just made up,” Duff said. “And it’s not something that we just decided one day we were going to be the resource-conserving crop.”

Sorghum being the resource-conserving crop is what drove the NSP to apply for the USDA climate smart grant.

“One thousand applicants, one of 70 awarded,” Duff said. “And it is a pretty strong track record for sorghum, it really shows that we are the resource-conserving crop.”

Of the $65 million that was awarded, $50 million will go directly to farmers across the High Plains.

“To carry out conservation and sustainability practices that will highlight the fact that sorghum is the resource-conserving crop,” Duff said.

The remainder of the money will go towards research. The research aims to prove, in a scientific way, that sorghum is a climate-smart crop. The 8,000-year-old crop used to be a primary cattle feed resource. Now it is more versatile than ever.

“Today, it’s used much more diversely about half of that goes to exports, of that, most to China. About a third goes to produce fuel, ethanol, in Kansas and Texas,” Duff said.

The grant money will also help farmers begin recovering from the 2022 drought.

“It’ll be one of the worst years we’ve had in several decades,” Duff said. “By the time the dust is all settled.”

Although sorghum uses 1/3 less water than other crops, it still needs rain to grow.

“Throughout the Sorghum Belt, from Texas all the way to South Dakota, it was a challenging year,” Duff said. “And we’re looking forward to a better one next year.”

Fortunately, the demand for sorghum is still strong.

“And so the opportunity and the value proposition for farmers is there like it has always been,” Duff said.

For more information about sorghum producers and the grant they received, visit the website here.