AGES No. (AGES-8967) 85 pp

December 1989

Sorghum: Background for 1990 Farm Legislation

This report address considerations in the 1990 farm bill debate for grain sorghum, including market conditions, policy proposals, trade agreements, and the interactions between policy and markets for selected commodities. U.S. sorghum acreage and use have trended down slightly since the early 1970s. Large sorghum harvests, greater corn and wheat feed use, and high foreign currency prices of sorghum helped raise U.S sorghum stocks in the early 1980s. Sorghum stocks buildup (especially CCC stocks) became more pronounced in the mid-1980s as a result of high yields and large harvests. Government payments to sorghum producers climbed from one-seventh of total sorghum returns above cash expenses in 1980 to three fourths by 1987. Growth in U.S. sorghum demand will likely come from exports, mainly determined by U.S. and foreign government policies, growth in foreign incomes and livestock output, and export credit availability. Policy issues for 1990 legislation include the level and flexibility of price and income supports relative to corn, the buildup of sorghum CCC stocks, and policy effects on trade, the livestock sector, resources, consumers, and taxpayers. Corn and wheat policies usually have been major factors affecting the consequences of sorghum policy.

Keywords: Costs and returns, exports, farm programs, livestock feeding, program effects, sorghum

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