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National Sorghum Producers and sorghum priorities shone bright at the 2023 Commodity Classic in Orlando.
Sorghum and sunshine turned out in a big way for the Commodity Classic this year in Orlando, Florida. The event, held March 9-11, had a record-breaking attendance of more than 10,400 attendees, beating the previous record of 9,770 attendees set in New Orleans in 2016.
This year’s event featured more than 30 educational sessions, a sold-out trade show with over 400 exhibitors, a keynote address by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, and policy meetings of the sponsoring commodity associations, including National Sorghum Producers.
During NSP board meetings, sponsored by Advanta, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Chief Terry Cosby visited with the NSP board of directors about the department’s work and opportunities for sorghum as The Resource Conserving Crop™.
Under Secretary Robert Bonnie, Risk Management Agency (RMA) Administrator Marcia Bunger and Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Zach Ducheneaux also met with NSP leadership to discuss a number of programs impacting sorghum farmers, including climate-smart agriculture, crop insurance and disaster assistance.
A highlight event each year at Commodity Classic is when leaders of each association take the stage for a roundtable discussion at the General Session. The next farm bill was top of mind for the association leaders.
Speaking to the drought experienced in the Sorghum Belt in 2022, NSP Chairman Craig Meeker from Wellington, Kansas, said those particularly challenging conditions highlight the need for an even stronger safety net in the next farm bill. “Show me the money,” he began, elevating the priority for new funding necessary to make meaningful improvements to the farm safety net.
The group also spoke to the theme for Commodity Classic–Preparing for the Next Generation. Meeker is a sixth generation farmer and said, “I have to say thank you to the generations that walked in my footsteps before. It’s a blessing, and I’m lucky enough to have the seventh generation coming behind me, whether it’s my son or two daughters.
“I’m blessed beyond means to have somebody that loves the farm and loves the way of life the way I did. I guess I am the next generation on my farm. My dad is at home taking care of things while I’m down here, and I appreciate that. I know one thing. If we don’t have a faith, and we don’t have a respect, and we don’t know Jesus Christ as our personal lord and savior, not any of this stuff is worth anything,” Meeker said to applause from the crowd that filled the 2,643-seat Chapin Theater at the Orange County Convention Center.
The NSP Sorghum Yield Contest Gala, sponsored by Pioneer®, gave sorghum growers the chance to showcase their yield achievements during the 2022 crop year. NSP Chairman Craig Meeker presented awards to the national winners in six categories, including the 2022 Bin Buster winner Brant & Amy Peterson of Winsome Farms, which you can read more about here. NSP also presented a Sorghum Kid’s video highlighting our own next generation, which you can view at youtube.com/sorghumgrowers.
Immediately following the gala Friday night, NSP kicked off its annual Sorghum PAC Casino Night & Auction, sponsored by Alta Seeds and UPL. This year, casino Night consisted of live, online and silent auctions, which have all increased in earnings over the past four years.
“I feel we are very fortunate to have very giving growers, board members and staff,” NSP Industry Relations Director Jamaca Battin said. “The Sorghum PAC Casino Night & Auction returned in a triumphant way, and our fundraising efforts accomplished a great deal in reaching our purpose to more effectively promote legislators who understand and advocate on behalf of sorghum farmers.”
NSP is expecting to bring in more than $140,000 to Sorghum PAC at the conclusions of Casino Night & Auction and the Third Annual Sorghum PAC Golf Tournament, which will be held April 29 in Dodge City, Kansas.
The 2023 Commodity Classic will be held in Houston, Texas, from February 29-March 2. Join NSP in taking part in Commodity Classic events along with the NSP Yield Contest Gala, Sorghum PAC Casino Night & Auction and future learning sessions. For more information visit, CommodityClassic.com.
This story originally appeared in the Spring 2023 Issue of Sorghum Grower magazine.