Grain Bins


SD sorghum grower is named to national checkoff board

Posted on October 17, 2008

A South Dakota sorghum producer has been selected to serve on the inaugural board of directors for the newly-established national sorghum checkoff. United States Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer has appointed Jerry Van Zee of Platte, S.D., to the Board of Directors for the national Sorghum Promotion, Research and Information Program.

The concept of a national sorghum checkoff program has been fostered by the National Sorghum Producers for more than two years. Collections began July 1, 2008. The program is designed to increase the profitability of U.S. sorghum producers, advance sorghum into the ethanol market, and develop foreign markets for sorghum.

South Dakota ranked ninth in the nation for sorghum production in 2007 and planted 210 thousand acres in the state, producing nearly 8.1 million bushels. Based on current grain sorghum prices and production, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) anticipates that the program will generate approximately $12-$16 million annually. First purchasers of grain sorghum will collect and remit assessments.

“I am honored to be appointed to the national sorghum checkoff Board of Directors and look forward to representing South Dakota while working with fellow board members to administer this important program,” said VanZee, who is an at-large member of the board.

The board is structured so that the state with the largest production is allocated five positions. The state with the second largest production is allocated three positions. The state with the third largest production is allocated one position. There are four at-large national positions for which at least two representatives must be appointed from states other than the top three sorghum producing states. The maximum number of producers from one state is limited to six.

The appointees will serve terms of two, three or four years. During each subsequent year, the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture will appoint one-third of all board members for 3-year terms. Appointed members representing sorghum producers are:

At-large — D. Troy Skarke, 2-year term, A. Louise Rigdon, 3-year term, W. Stewart Weaver, 3-year term and Jerry L. VanZee, 4-year term;

Kansas — Jeff Casten, 2-year term, William J. Greving, 4-year term, Gary L. Kilgore, 3-year term, Earl D. Roemer, 2-year term and Gregory K. Shelor, 4-year term;

Nebraska — James A. Vorderstrasse, 3-year term; and

Texas — William H. Kubecka, 4-year term, Dale M. Artho, 2-year term and Billy Bob Brown, 3-year term.

“Now that the national checkoff Board is in place, NSP will focus its mission on legislative and regulatory representation for sorghum producers,” said Toby Bostwick, National Sorghum Producers (NSP) Chairman of the Board from Melrose, New Mexico. “Now more than ever, NSP needs the support of its producer members in the form of individual and elevator memberships. We are excited about the future of the sorghum industry and NSP looks forward to working closely with the checkoff Board for the advancement of this industry.”

NSP represents U.S. sorghum producers. The organization works to ensure the profitability of sorghum production coast to coast through legislative representation, regulatory representation, and education. To learn more about NSP, visit

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