The sorghum R&P program operates as the United Sorghum Checkoff Program. The Program's purpose is to maintain and expand existing sorghum markets and uses. The United Sorghum Checkoff Program has pursued efforts in the areas of research, promotion, and information sharing to help sorghum producers achieve greater financial return. Today, the economic picture for sorghum producers is bright with increased demand coming from foreign and domestic markets. The program is funded by an assessment of 0.6 percent of the net market value of grain sorghum and 0.35 percent of the net market value of sorghum forage, silage, hay, haylage, and billets. All producers marketing sorghum must pay the assessment. Imports of such products are assessed, although currently imports are very limited.
Based on current grain sorghum prices and production, USDA anticipates the program will generate about $6 million annually. The assessments fund the United Sorghum Checkoff Program Board (Sorghum Board), which runs the industry’s research and promotion program under AMS oversight. First purchasers of grain sorghum collect and remit assessments.
The Commodity Promotion, Research, and Information Act of 1996 (pdf) allows the collection of assessments on the production of sorghum. The money collected must be used to enhance the sorghum industry through research, information, and promotion. The money may not be used for lobbying efforts.
The approval process for the United Sorghum Checkoff Program began in February 2006. The proposed Sorghum Promotion, Research, and Information Order (Order) was published in the Federal Register for public comment on November 23, 2007. The final Order was published on May 6, 2008 (pdf). United Sorghum Checkoff Program assessment collections began July 1, 2008, and the board of director’s first meeting was held in November 2008.
Two referendums were held in February 2011 and 2015, both of which passed allowing the continuation of the United Sorghum Checkoff Program. Future referendums can occur only by order of the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture or by a 10 percent producer petition.
The Sorghum Board is comprised of 13 sorghum producers. Membership includes five seats for the largest production state, three seats for the second largest production state, and one seat for the third largest production state. The Sorghum Board also includes four at-large/national members.
The Order provides that between 15 percent and 25 percent of the total assessments collected annually be returned to qualified state programs for promotion and research activities. The Secretary of Agriculture certifies these qualified state programs.
Membership & Nominations
If you are interested in becoming a member of the Sorghum Board, you:
- Must be a sorghum producer who is engaged in the growing of sorghum in the United States who owns, or who shares the ownership and risk of loss of, such sorghum.
- Must be nominated by a Certified Producer Organization (pdf) and submit a completed application.
AMS Policy on Board Diversity: AMS policy is that the diversity of the board should reflect the diversity of their industries in experience of members, methods of production and distribution, marketing strategies, and other distinguishing factors that will bring different perspectives and ideas to the table. When submitting nominations, the industry must consider the diversity of the population served and the knowledge, skills, and abilities of the members to serve a diverse population.
- Form LPS-27 (Application for Certification to Make Nominations to the Sorghum Board)
- Application for Qualification of State Sorghum Board
- Nomination of Sorghum Producers
- Form AD-755 (Advisory Committee Membership Background Information)
- Nominee's Agreement to Serve Form
- Form LPS-378 (Report and Remittance of Amount Collected and Due on Sorghum Purchased)
Organic Assessment Exemption
R&P programs allow persons that produce, handle, market, process, manufacture, feed, or import “organic” and “100 percent organic” products to be exempt from paying assessments regardless of whether they are a “split” operation.
Mailing Address & Fax Number
USDA, AMS, LPS, RPD
1400 Independence Avenue, SW.
STOP 0249 - Room 2610-S
Washington, DC 20250-0249
USDA Oversight Contact
Craig Shackelford (oversees National Pork Board and Sorghum Board)
22 Jamesport Lane
White, GA 30184