Funding for the Great Plains Sorghum Initiative would increase by $600,000 through the FY06 agricultural bill recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives.

Funds go to Kansas State University, Texas Tech University and Texas A&M University. Proposed cuts for sorghum research were also restored to the budget of the United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS).

The $600,000 research increase will expand the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) special grant for grain sorghum.

Expanding the grant will allow Kansas State University to lead efforts in plant breeding, genetics and sorghum utilization; Texas Tech University to lead efforts on marketing, policy analysis, risk management and water use efficiency management; and Texas A&M University to lead efforts on sorghum cropping systems and managing weeds and pests.

Grain sorghum is economically important in areas where low rainfall and high temperatures limit production of other summer crops. As pressure on the Ogallala Aquifer increases and less irrigation is possible, sorghum will become even more important to farmers and the High Plains animal feeding industry, says a National Grain Sorghum Producers spokesman.

Proposed cuts also were restored to the USDA-ARS budget for sorghum research. From improving children’s nutrition to fostering domestic energy independence to maintaining and distributing sorghum germplasm, the ARS sorghum research funding targets improvements in the genetics and utilization of sorghum.

Of utmost importance to the sorghum industry is exploiting sorghum’s ability to use less water to produce a crop, especially as non-agriculture demands on water are increasing, according to NGSP.

Federal research dollars to sorghum will ensure that this risk-adverse crop will continue to be an important risk management tool for farmers in the Sorghum Belt, NGSP sources said.

NGSP represents U.S. sorghum producers nationwide. Headquartered in Lubbock, Texas, in the heart of the U.S. grain sorghum belt that stretches from the Rockies to the Mississippi River and from South Texas to South Dakota, the organization works to ensure the profitability of sorghum production through market development, research, education and legislative representation.