China merchandisers visit US sorghum industr
The group visited grain elevators, farms, ethanol plants and export facilities in Texas and Kansas to gain more education about the U.S. sorghum industry.
Photo courtesy of Sorghum Checkoff.
LUBBOCK, TEXAS, U.S. – A team of next generation Chinese merchandisers from several agriculture and commodity trading companies visited Texas and Kansas June 20-July 1. The group, who represent more than 50% of China’s total sorghum imports from the United States, visited grain elevators, farms, ethanol plants and export facilities to discuss purchasing sorghum for export to China through hands-on education about sorghum production, marketing, export logistics and available options.

“China is a strong presence in the sorghum export market for U.S. producers,” said Florentino Lopez, executive director of Sorghum Checkoff. “We spend this time educating visitors on U.S. sorghum quality, condition, logistics and price so they are able to make informed purchasing decisions.”

The group started their visit meeting with Archer Daniels Midland Co. (ADM) in Corpus Christi, Texas, U.S., along with representatives from the Port of Corpus Christi. Traveling south, the team stopped at Sorghum Checkoff board director Jim Massey’s farm to see how the sorghum crop was progressing this year throughout the Coastal Bend and to learn how sorghum producers market their crop.

The team also toured the new facilities at the Port of Brownsville in Brownsville, Texas, U.S., recently acquired by West Plains, LLC. The Chinese were able to learn about price differences between loading vessels at different ports and how export facilities differ in their acquisition and sale of sorghum grain. The team of buyers also discussed container shipping, vessel capacity, price and timing of sorghum grain sales for this year.

“We partner with the U.S. Grains Council and other sorghum businesses such as elevators and export facilities to provide trade teams with as much information about our sorghum industry as possible,” Lopez said. “Our hope is that this education and time spent fostering relationships will lead to increased sorghum exports and will increase opportunities for U.S. sorghum farmers.”

After visiting operations in Texas, the team traveled north to Manhattan, Kansas, U.S., and spent time with the International Grains Program (IGP Institute) at Kansas State University. Representatives from the IGP Institute discussed sorghum production, marketing, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s grain standards, grain inspection, export contracts and risk management.

According to the Sorghum Checkoff, China is the number one importer of U.S. sorghum with 276 million bushels imported in the 2015-16 marketing year, and this two-week tour allowed hands-on learning experiences for the group while allowing producers and businesses to foster important relationships with buyers. The Sorghum Checkoff and U.S. Grains Council continue to value trade relationships with China.