Texas and Kansas Tours Highlight Opportunities for Chinese Sorghum Buyers


Bryan Jernigan, U.S. Grains Council, bjernigan@grains.org
Jennifer Blackburn, United Sorghum Checkoff Program, jennifer@sorghumcheckoff.com  

Washington, D.C. - The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) – in cooperation with the United Sorghum Checkoff Program, the Kansas Grain Sorghum Commission and the Texas Grain Sorghum Association – are hosting top Chinese sorghum importers in the United States to learn more about U.S. sorghum production and strengthen relationships with U.S. sorghum suppliers.

The team will learn about sorghum production, buying strategies and develop relationships with U.S. sorghum suppliers at all levels of the value chain as sorghum demand from China rebuilds following trade challenges early in 2018.

After trade tensions were heightened between the United States and China earlier in the year – demonstrated by an anti-dumping and countervailing duty investigation brought by the Chinese government regarding sorghum – this team visit is a bright spot that signals relations between the two countries are once again moving in a positive direction. 

“The Council is pleased to be a part of this important work to maintain communication and strengthen relationships between the U.S. and China,” said Tom Sleight, USGC president and chief executive officer. 

“Even with a moderate tariff on U.S. sorghum, demand – especially in southern China – continues. It’s just another reason to highlight with these top sorghum importers and end-users how the U.S. can be a competitive supplier with this year’s crop. These importers and feed mill representatives have the opportunity to see the full U.S. sorghum value chain – from crops in the field to elevators and port facilities. Trips like these encourage increased use and purchase of U.S. sorghum between the two countries while satisfying our mission of developing markets, enabling trade and improving lives.”

The visit will highlight the entire sorghum value chain for the Chinese buyers in an effort to encourage more U.S. sorghum sales to China.

"This is one of many important opportunities created by the Sorghum Checkoff and U.S. Grains Council to foster and maintain valuable market relationships with end users in China," said Verity Ulibarri, Sorghum Checkoff chairwoman. "This team from China is anxious to meet with U.S. producers and continue learning about our product even with newly implemented tariffs on U.S. sorghum and other goods, and we look forward to providing that hands-on education experience they expect while demonstrating the quality, condition, logistics and price that continue to drive demand for U.S. sorghum in China."

The 11 team members – whose imports account for more than 50 percent of China’s total U.S. sorghum imports – will first make stops in Texas including a multi-facility grain company, two farming operations, a visit to the Port of Houston and a global merchant for agricultural commodities. 

"Texas growers are anxious to meet with Chinese end-users slated to be in the U.S. and discuss a number of issues, including ways to improve exporting grain sorghum to China," said Jay Wilder, Texas Grain Sorghum Association president. “Our producers understand the value of having our international end-users on their farms and businesses and embrace conversations about quality and trade. This is a great opportunity for our producers to not only teach about grain sorghum but also to learn from our key consumers how their businesses function and what attributes make sorghum one of the top exports from Texas to China."

After spending time in Texas, the team will head to Kansas where they will participate in a traders meeting, visit a grain marketing company, travel to an ethanol plant and participate in an outing to several farms, including a large farm enterprise with feed milling and a livestock operation.

"At this time, in particular, we must engage buyers around the world,” said Jesse McCurry, executive director for the Kansas Grain Sorghum Commission. “We have a quality product that we want to sell. Kansas sorghum farmers are excited to host our friends and show off our ready supply.”

With the support of Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) program funding from the farm bill and funding from USCP, the Council and the Sorghum Checkoff continue to form and strengthen relationships with sorghum buyers in China. This approach to building bridges and growing markets helps facilitate continued trade with countries around the world.

China has become a top customer for U.S. sorghum despite policy concerns in recent months. U.S. sorghum sales to China took off during the 2013-14 marketing year, with a value of $1 billion since then. 


About the U.S. Grains Council

The U.S. Grains Council develops export markets for U.S. barley, corn, sorghum and related products including distiller's dried grains with solubles (DDGS) and ethanol. With full-time presence in 13 key markets and representatives in an additional 15 locations, the Council operates programs in more than 50 countries and the European Union. The Council believes exports are vital to global economic development and to U.S. agriculture's profitability. Detailed information about the Council and its programs is online at www.grains.org.

About the United Sorghum Checkoff Program

The United Sorghum Checkoff Program is a producer-funded organization that is dedicated to improving the sorghum industry through research, promotion and education. For more information about the USCP and other research projects please visit www.sorghumcheckoff.com.