Producer Return on Investment
The Sorghum Checkoff has had a positive impact on sorghum yields, acreage and farm value, illustrating a positive return on producer investment, an independent study finds. Over the past 10 years, the Sorghum Checkoff has worked to properly invest producer dollars into areas that offer growth, profitability and industry strength, and this return on investment evaluation indicates the organization is positively impacting the sorghum industry.
Funding in crop improvement program areas has successfully boosted the average acreage and farm value of production since the Sorghum Checkoff launched in 2008. Crop improvement investments also demonstrate a slight increase in sorghum yields, moving from an average 57.6 bushels per acre from 1960-2008 to an average of 65.2 bushels per acre during the time of the checkoff program (2008-2017). The farm value of U.S. sorghum production increased by an average of $12.6 million per year during that same time period, given estimated production and price impacts of Sorghum Checkoff investments. These investments show a tangible benefit to producers evidenced by the evaluation that for every Sorghum Checkoff dollar invested in crop improvement, the net return to producers was $8.57.
Investments in crop improvement led to ground-breaking technology for sorghum, such as the discovery of doubled haploid inducer lines, which will allow new hybrids to reach farmers' fields faster than ever before. The Sorghum Checkoff partnered with organizations like DuPont Pioneer, Kansas Grain Sorghum Commission and Texas A&M AgriLife Research to seek out attributes, qualities and other factors of sorghum capable of increasing demand. One key research project led to better understanding of sugarcane aphid and the development of best-management practices that were quickly disseminated to key grower advisers and influencers to help farmers produce a successful crop.
Food and Industrial Use
Efforts by the Sorghum Checkoff to invest in food and industrial use have also been successful, showing that sorghum use in these markets increased by an average of 6 million bushels per year from 2008-2017. This equates to a total of 47.8 million bushels of additional sorghum sales since the checkoff began. Demand for sorghum in food, alcohol and industry use increased significantly since 1975, moving from an average of 16.7 million bushels used in this market between 1975-1998 to an average of 86.6 million bushels between 2018-2017. This increase in demand can be seen as the number of retail food products containing sorghum now totals more than 1,000. Sorghum is also included on 1.7 percent of restaurant menus across the nation, an eightfold increase over the last four years, and popular restaurant chains like Chick-fil-A and Papa John's now include sorghum on their menu.
High-Value Markets and Renewables
The Sorghum Checkoff's investment into high-value markets and renewables combined enhanced the farm value of sorghum sales by near $107.4 million. The net return to the producer in this area is nearly $11.60. Sorghum: The Smart Choice™ was featured at the JAG 350 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in Forth Worth, Texas, as a result of the Sorghum Checkoff's investment in the Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership (BIP). The Sorghum Checkoff, Texas Grain Sorghum Producers Board and Kansas Grain Sorghum Commission invested a total of $250,000 into the program as a way to aid states in delivering higher blends of renewable fuel. The Department of Energy invested nearly $90 million in sorghum through the Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) program over the last two years alone. Sorghum will be researched as a model feedstock through the Transportation Energy Resources from Renewable Agriculture (TERRA) program.
Producer Education and Resources
In addition to research and market investments, the Sorghum Checkoff developed educational tools and resources to assist producers in sorghum management. The Sorghum Checkoff developed regional production guides, livestock feeding guides and information sheets on specific topics like water use, sugarcane aphid management and exports to educate farmers on best-management practices. On SorghumCheckoff.com, more resources can be found for producers in the Agronomy Library, which houses information on a wide array of agronomic topics such as seeding rates, tillering, heat stress and the use of harvest aids to name a few. Educational resources are shared online, via social media and through products available at meetings and trade shows throughout the year.