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U.S. Grains Council Engages International Buyers On U.S. Sorghum

Even in the toughest of times, the on-the-ground presence around the world and rapid response by U.S. Grains Council (USGC) staff can turn a crisis into an opportunity to build lasting markets.

Twenty vessels of U.S. sorghum were in transit to China when the country announced an immediate 178.6 percent preliminary anti-dumping duty on U.S. sorghum on April 18, 2018. The Council, as the export market development organization for the U.S. sorghum industry, went immediately to work – fielding calls by members and international customers looking for alternative markets for these sorghum shipments.

Buyers responded just as quickly to the situation and vessels were re-routed, albeit at a significantly discounted price, to markets including Spain, Saudi Arabia and many others. Now, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is reporting new sales of U.S. sorghum to even more markets, thanks in large part to the Council’s efforts to prepare and keep buyers informed of the sorghum situation.

“The intense efforts of the Council’s global network to find alternative markets for U.S. sorghum demonstrates how responsive we are as an organization,” said Deb Keller, USGC chairman and farmer from Iowa. “This work is emblematic of who we are and what we have done since the organization was founded in 1960.

“This is the Council doing what it does best and we are very proud of it.”

Sorghum has served as a cornerstone commodity of the Council since the organization’s inception. Since that time, the Council has worked to develop worldwide markets for U.S. sorghum, resulting in a long list of countries with experience using the coarse grain, including Japan, Spain, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Morocco and Mexico.

For example, U.S. sorghum producers from Kansas and Texas tapped into logistical advantages during a direct sales mission to Mexico organized by the Council and the United Sorghum Checkoff Program (USCP) in June 2017. The duty-free provisions in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) have led to increasingly-integrated logistics for the grain trade in the second largest market for U.S. sorghum. Mexican end-users now prefer U.S. sorghum over local sorghum supplies for high-protein, quality feed, but the U.S. grain also must compete on price.

Japan and Spain have been long-time, significant markets for U.S. sorghum. However, in recent years, they have not purchased substantial quantities of U.S. sorghum due to strong demand by Chinese importers. Nevertheless, the Council has continued to maintain contacts in these countries.

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