OK Sorghum Leader Jordan Shearer Keeping Fingers Crossed That US, China Come to Terms SoonWed, 06 Mar 2019 13:15:07 CST
During the 2019 Commodity Classic in Orlando, Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Associate Farm Director Carson Horn had the chance to catch up with Jordan Shearer, a sorghum producer from Oklahoma and executive director of the Oklahoma Sorghum Growers Association. Shearer sat down with Horn to review this past year from a local sorghum producer’s perspective and how the political landscape has affected the sorghum industry. While he admits, things could be better - not just for sorghum but all grains for that matter - the future holds much promise if certain barriers can be overcome and geo-political differences resolved. You can listen to their complete conversation by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below at the bottom of the page.
“Trade comes front and center,” Shearer said, confronting the issue head on by explaining how US sorghum producers felt the immediate whiplash of the trade war with China which before generally purchased two-thirds of the US sorghum crop. “But, it does look like there is some thawing of those tensions. So, I think there’s been progress made and fingers crossed we can get some good news so guys can have some certainty this year.”
Through all of this past year’s hardships, though, Shearer says the sorghum industry has enjoyed the unwavering support of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. Through close collaboration with his office, Shearer says the industry has been able to make strides in alleviating the pressures of the current market.
“Sec. Perdue has been extremely accessible and has a great relationship with National Sorghum Producers. Working together, we’ve been able to get that 86 cents per bushel in the Market Facilitation Program. That’s really helped a lot of growers stay in the game another year,” he said. “Perdue definitely pulls a lot of weight with the administration and we couldn’t have a better guy. He’s got our back for sure.”
Shearer illustrates that point noting that China’s initial reaction to pushback from the Trump administration a year ago was to impose a 178 percent tariff on US sorghum. USDA stood by the industry and worked to bring that tariff back down to 25 percent. Shearer says without the USDA’s help, that tariff could be as high as 200 percent.
“None of these budget sheets are where we want them to be right now and of course the grain complex is under a lot of pressure. But, there’s no telling how bed things would be without their help,” Shearer remarked. “One thing I will say, though, they think the demand for sorghum in China could be ten-fold of what they were importing before the trade disruption. So, I think longer-term, things are looking better.”
Despite the ongoing uncertainty, however, Shearer adds that sorghum’s presence in Oklahoma and across the country continues to grow with more and more producers considering the crop and the soil health benefits it brings to a rotational cropping system.
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