Sorghum Reaches New Heights at Commodity Classic

From a productive policy meeting and extensive education and outreach to boisterous applause at the general session and outstanding yields and generosity celebrated at the Yield Contest Awards and Sorghum PAC Casino Night & Auction, Team Sorghum triumphed at Commodity Classic.

Article by Jesse Harding Campbell

The 2024 Commodity Classic skyrocketed past previous records by drawing over 11,500 participants to Houston from February 28 to March 2 and eclipsing last year’s record-setting attendance in Orlando.

Participants explored ‘New Frontiers in Agriculture’ and immersed themselves in more than 30 educational sessions while navigating two trade show floors that hosted over 435 exhibitors. For the first time, both U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael S. Regan gave keynotes during the General Session. As in previous years, policy meetings were held by the sponsoring associations, including National Sorghum Producers.

NSP Policy Board Meeting

Several speakers from USDA attended this year’s NSP Board of Directors’ meeting, which was sponsored by Bayer Crop Science and DEKALB. Undersecretary Robert Bonnie and NRCS Chief Terry Cosby discussed the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities grant, Regional Conservation Partnership Programs (RCPP), Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

The Emergency Relief Program (ERP) and reference price increases were key topics in discussion with RMA Administrator Marcia Bunger and FSA Administrator Zach Ducheneaux.

Education and Outreach

The NSP and United Sorghum Checkoff Program booths were buzzing on the trade show floor. Attendees picked up popped sorghum and discussed sustainability, agronomy and nutrition with staff and board members. From the trade show stage, Team Sorghum presented on nutrition and sustainability.

NSP Executive Director Greg Ruehle and Vice Chair Amy France, from Scott City, Kansas, updated media on the NSP Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities grant program during a press conference. Additionally, over 25 media interviews were conducted throughout the week.

Commodity Classic General Session

The five leaders of the presenting organizations participated in a roundtable discussion during the General Session. For a second year, NSP Chairman Craig Meeker, from Wellington, Kansas, represented sorghum’s interest.

Meeker spoke about sustainability, farmer determination and the wildfires in sorghum country, advocating not only for sorghum growers but for all farmers. Receiving several rounds of applause from the audience, the largest came after his thoughts on Congress and the farm bill.

“We need to look at our neighbors as our partners, not our competitors… If we can focus on the things we have in common, and not focus on the things that divide us, I think we will be a heck of a lot better,” Meeker said.

“I think we can encourage the 535 members of Congress to do the same thing and work together. I think you’ll see a robust, excellent farm bill with a great Title I safety net that will cover all titles,” Meeker concluded.

Ross Shafer, the General Session emcee, followed up by asking why Meeker wasn’t running for President.

Sorghum Yield Contest Awards Gala

Sorghum growers came together to celebrate their yield achievements during the 2023 growing season at the 2024 Sorghum Yield Contest Gala, sponsored by Pioneer®.

NSP Chairman Craig Meeker and Vice Chair Amy France presented awards to 19 farmers. This year’s Hall of Fame winners included Jeffrey Barlieb, New Jersey; David Knoll, South Dakota; Santino Santini, New Jersey; and Chris Santini, New Jersey, who was also the 2023 Bin Buster awardee.

NSP CEO Tim Lust presented his ‘Sorghum State of the Union,’ which encompassed highlights from his more than 30 years in the industry.

Sorghum PAC Casino Night & Auction

The celebration continued after the gala at the Sorghum PAC Casino Night & Auction. The premier sponsor of the Sorghum PAC Series is T&O Farms, and the auction sponsor was BigIron. More than 80 items were donated between the online, live, silent and the upcoming golf tournament silent auction.

“We are very blessed and are grateful to the generosity of our members, industry partners and staff,” NSP Industry Relations Director and PAC Event Coordinator Jamaca Battin said. “Though we may represent a small commodity, we have a mighty voice. The fundraising efforts have significantly advanced our mission to promote legislators who understand and champion the interests of sorghum farmers.”

NSP is expecting to bring in more than $150,000 to the Sorghum PAC between the Casino Night & Auction and the 4th Annual Sorghum PAC Golf Tournament, scheduled for April 27 in Dodge City, Kansas.

2025 Commodity Classic

Denver will be the host city in 2025. Make plans to attend March 2-4, and join NSP in participating in Commodity Classic events. For more information, visit


This story originally appeared in the Spring 2024 Issue of Sorghum Grower magazine.