Advancing Climate-Smart Sorghum for a Sustainable Future

Article By Jennifer (Blackburn) Warren

National Sorghum Producers’ Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities pilot project recently achieved a significant milestone by signing its first grower contract with Cedar Rush, a fourth-generation family farmer from New Mexico. Rush, who cultivates sorghum, wheat and hay grazer, has joined hands with NSP to foster sustainable agricultural practices. The announcement garnered attention from prominent figures in the agricultural community, including U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who expressed his support and welcomed Rush aboard to the USDA initiative.

The pilot project has gained momentum with the signing of contracts from 19 growers, totaling 20 contracts. This enthusiastic participation highlights the growing interest among farmers in embracing sustainable agricultural techniques. Together, these forward-thinking growers have dedicated a substantial 7,988 acres of land to implementing climate-smart practices, and NSP is actively working with growers to support their commitment to climate-smart agriculture practices.

Introducing Key Staff: Matt Durler and Rick Kochenower

To effectively administer the climate-smart commodities grant, NSP recently added two key staff members to its team. Matt Durler joins us as the Managing Director. Hailing from a sorghum, wheat and beef farm near Dodge City, Kansas, Matt brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the role. With a bachelor’s degree in business administration, finance, economics and management, as well as an MBA from Washburn University, Matt has a deep understanding of both the agricultural and financial aspects of the industry. His previous roles in risk management and marketing at prominent agricultural organizations have honed his skills in driving sustainable growth and maximizing potential.

Rick Kochenower, a seasoned specialist in sorghum agronomy and production, has been appointed as a contract and outreach specialist for the grant. With an expansive career spanning over 25 years, Rick has been a dedicated advocate for sorghum growers. His experience as a sorghum grain specialist at Oklahoma State University and as a sales agronomist for a sorghum seed company has equipped him with a comprehensive understanding of the challenges and opportunities in the industry. As the first point of contact for growers, Rick will play a vital role in educating and assisting growers throughout the grant’s duration.

Looking Ahead: A Sustainable Future for Sorghum

NSP remains committed to advancing climatesmart agriculture and promoting sustainable practices within the industry. The success of the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities Pilot Project serves as a testament to the collective efforts of sorghum growers, our state partners and dedicated staff members like Durler and Kochenower. As the project moves forward, we are excited about the potential to create a resilient and sustainable future for our industry and our growers.

To learn more about NSP’s Partnerships for Climate- Smart Commodities Pilot Project, visit SorghumGrowers. com/climatesmart. For a comprehensive overview of the project’s progress and updates, please explore the full project dashboard on


This story originally appeared in the Summer 2023 Issue of Sorghum Grower magazine.