Sorghum Shines In Texas: Council Staff Visit Ports, Sorghum Operations

During the 2020/2021 marketing year, 44 countries purchased U.S. sorghum. U.S. Grains Council (USGC) employees Amelia Iliohan, USGC manager of industry relations, Paige Stevenson, USGC manager of global trade, and Emily Sutton, USGC manager of communications, visited Texas last week to better understand the sorghum industry there and the value chain for it. Wayne Cleveland, executive director of the Texas Grain Sorghum Producers Association and Board, Khoa Nguyen of T&T Group, a Vietnamese feed grain importer, and Tom Sloan and Jake Lower of SGS, a testing and inspection company, also joined the Council staff.

The group began its journey in Houston by visiting grain trader Hansen-Mueller’s port elevator facility at the Port of Houston where the plant manager gave a tour of the grounds and COO provided a brief history of the company. The group then headed to the next stop on the agenda, the Port of Victoria.

image of people in front of grain bins
While in Texas, the group visited United Ag’s grain elevators in Victoria while learning more about the Port of Victoria and its role in grain exportation. Pictured from left to right are Amelia Iliohan, manager of industry relations, Emily Sutton, manager of communications, and Paige Stevenson, manager of global trade.

In Victoria, Council staff toured the facility of United Ag, a cotton and grain cooperative, before taking a more in-depth look at the Port of Victoria and learned about other companies and organizations that use it.

“Nothing gives us as staff a greater purpose than being on the ground with our farmers and members. Our recent travel to southern Texas personally gave me a greater perspective of the work our members are doing to benefit United States grain trade and helped me build connections with members to strengthen our vision at the Council,” Iliohan said.

The second day of the mission began by meeting with another grain and cotton cooperative, Planter’s Co-Op. The co-op’s general manager and board president talked with the group about the most recent sorghum crop and the importance of their community in the nation’s sorghum production.

In Corpus Christi, the manager of Corpus Christi Grain Company, a local company that handles grain from the producers in the area until it reaches market, let the group view a sample of the most recent sorghum crop while discussing the work done there. Next on the agenda, the group visited USGC Sorghum Sector Director Jim Massey at his farm. Massey talked with the group about his planting strategy for the upcoming growing season. By using a reduced tilling method, the soil on Massey’s farm is of better quality for growing the sorghum and cotton on his farm.

The group concluded its trip to Texas by visiting West Plains LLC, an agricultural commodity trading business at the Port of Brownsville. Council staff got a tour of the company’s port facility and heard more on the company’s ongoing project of updating the facility there to increase its efficiency in exporting.

“The Texas port system is a vital component needed by sorghum farmers to sell their grain to international buyers. It was great to meet some of the people who help facilitate that process and be able to showcase the system to a large buyer of U.S. grains from Vietnam,” Stevenson said.