The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced that the United Sorghum Checkoff Program referendum held Feb. 1-28, 2011, has produced a majority consensus and the Sorghum Checkoff will remain in operation.

Gerald Simonsen, National Sorghum Producers chairman of the board and sorghum farmer from Ruskin, Neb., proclaimed the results as a huge win for the industry and sorghum farmers across the nation.

Of the 1,204 valid ballots cast, 917 or 76.2 percent favored the program and 287 or 23.7 percent opposed continuing the program. The program had to be approved by at least a majority of those eligible persons voting for approval who were engaged in the production and sale of sorghum during the period July 1, 2008, through Dec. 31, 2010.

 “The NSP board recognized a need three years ago for improvement in the sorghum industry in the areas of market development, research and education,” said Simonsen. “We developed a vision, worked with USDA to create the program and are proud of the results the Sorghum Checkoff has produced in its two short years of operation.”

Barry Evans, a sorghum farmer from Kress, Texas, said he is proud of those who banded together and foresaw the changes required to push the sorghum industry forward.

“Farmers are known to take the initiative and implement the steps necessary to accomplish a goal. This is a prime example of seeing a need and coming together to further our industry,” said Evans. “The projects that will be undertaken could never happen with one person, but when we join together, we can achieve a more diversified and profitable industry. Sorghum needed this.”

Bill Kubecka, United Sorghum Checkoff Program chairman and Palacios, Texas, farmer, said the passing of the referendum is a big step in the right direction for the sorghum industry.

“The Sorghum Checkoff will continue funding projects to improve sorghum  production and demand enhancements to increase the value of U.S. sorghum and farmers’ profitability,” Kubecka said. “There are still many obstacles to overcome, but we will build a stronger sorghum industry through research, market development and education efforts.”

 “This will breathe new life into the sorghum industry,” said Terry Swanson, vice chairman of the board and sorghum farmer from Walsh, Colo., “The research and marketing component of the checkoff is an integral part of the success of our industry—an area that did not receive much support until now. Sorghum is gaining the technology needed to regain acres lost in the past, and producers are becoming more aware of the far-reaching benefits sorghum has to offer.”

"We are excited and thrilled with the results of the referendum and we understand the responsibility we have to continue to improve the industry and producer profitability,” said Tim Lust, CEO of the United Sorghum Checkoff Program. “The board and staff will keep working hard and will focus on the next steps for the program, which include continuing research and technology advancement projects to improve the crop's competitiveness."