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Canada seen as growth market for U.S. sorghum

Four railcars of South Dakota sorghum headed north for Canadian buyers may not seem like much, but the U.S. Grains Council considers it the first knock of opportunity.

“Realistically, this is a small amount of U.S. sorghum but it is a great beginning,” said Dan Keefe, the USGC’s manager of international operations for distillers’ dried grains with solubles (DDGS), in a release Thursday.

“This is the initial step in getting greater quantities of U.S. grain sorghum to our northern neighbours,” he said of the 360-tonne sale. “This is very similar to the story behind U.S. DDGS making headway in the Canadian marketplace.”

In 2003, he said, 30,898 tonnes of U.S. DDGS were exported to Canada, which in 2008 imported 771,797 tonnes of the ethanol manufacturing byproduct, making Canada its second-largest buyer.

U.S. sorghum has “strong potential” for growth in Canada due to its competitive price against local wheat and barley, said Keefe, who according to the USGC helped make the “connections” for the sale from South Dakota.

As well, he said, exporting sorghum is profitable for U.S. farmers. In this case, he said, the sorghum was priced higher than it was in South Dakota.

“This sorghum will be used primarily as bird feed but will also be used for livestock,” said merchandiser Jamie Williams of USGC member Furst-McNess Co., which is based in Freeport, Ill. and handled the logistics of the transaction.

“I’m hoping this is a sign of good things to come for U.S. sorghum growers.”

The Washington, D.C.-based USGC, a non-profit group focused on boosting exports of U.S. corn, barley and sorghum, didn’t give the name of the Canadian buyers but said the South Dakota sorghum sale is finalized for a March delivery.

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