U.S. Grains Council Hosts Sorghum Export Mission to Africa, Europe

 A delegation of U.S. sorghum industry representatives recently traveled to Morocco, Spain and Belgium as the U.S. Grains Council continues its efforts in developing sorghum markets abroad.

Morocco grain buyers began importing sorghum two years ago as a result of export missions hosted by the Council. These missions have connected end-users with industry representatives to help them learn more about sorghum. Moroccan purchases totaled 98,000 tons (3.9 million bushels) in the 2009/2010 market year. As of July 28, U.S. sorghum sales to Morocco total 112,000 metric tons (4.4 million bushels) for the current market year. The latest sales are part of a regular pattern that has taken place since the team visits.

While in Morocco, the delegation met with grain buyers, feed millers and poultry and dairy operations that have recently started utilizing U.S. sorghum.

Bill Grieving, a sorghum farmer from Prairie View, Kan., was a part of the delegation along with five other growers representing Oklahoma, Nebraska, Arkansas and South Dakota.

“It is important that we as an industry continue to foster these international relationships,” Grieving said. “The increased sorghum purchases from Morocco are a clear example of the success we are having in developing markets overseas. It is clear that Moroccan end-users are seeing the value is using sorghum, and this market continues to provide opportunities for growers in the United States.”

While in Spain, the delegation toured two major European ports in Tarragona and Malaga that play a vital role in the importation of U.S. sorghum and other grains into Europe. Spain is the second-largest importer of U.S. sorghum, and will remain a major player in sorghum export markets.

Following visits in Morocco and Spain, the delegation met with European Union officials in Brussels, Belgium, to confirm success in a year-long effort to resolve an obsolete provision in the EU tariff regulations that has hindered U.S. sorghum sales to Europe. The EU levy system had been using incorrect data when establishing a reference price for sorghum. This unfortunately increased the levy on U.S. sorghum and pushed sorghum prices in Europe higher than the price of corn on occasion.

“With the recent adjustment of the sorghum import levy in the European Union, timing was right for this delegation to meet with the European Agricultural Commission in Brussels,” said Cary Sifferath, USGC regional director for the Mediterranean and Africa. “The Sorghum Checkoff and the Council have been working with the Commission to establish a more transparent process for the sorghum levy. This is a big success and a crucial foothold to future and increased imports of U.S. sorghum in the area.”
Sorghum representatives on the mission included:

  • Bill Greving, of Prairie View, Kan., Kansas Grain Sorghum Commission
  • Jerry Van Zee, of Pierre, S.D., United Sorghum Checkoff Program
  • John Dvoracek of Grand Island, Neb., Nebraska Grain Sorghum Board
  • Jeff Rutledge of Newport, Ark., Arkansas Corn and Grain Sorghum Board
  • Brad Brainard of Enid, Okla., Oklahoma Sorghum Commission
  • David Thomas of New Deal, Texas, National Sorghum Producers
  • Benjamin Smith of Amarillo, Texas, Attebury Grain
  • Lindsay Kennedy, external affairs director, United Sorghum Checkoff Program