US sorghum is used for feed

Updated: 2013-09-12 09:08

By Caroline Berg in New York (China Daily)

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In China, sorghum is traditionally used to produce liquor, such as the potent baijiu rice wine. Now China is using the grain to help formulate animal feed.

China's large private feed mills are increasingly buying sorghum from the US after using up their import allocations for corn, the preferred animal-feed grain, according to a Reuters report.

The mills have reached their import limit of 2.88 million tons of corn this year and are not expected to provide more corn until the end of the year when the government issues quotas for 2014, according to the report .

Importing US-grown sorghum is an appealing alternative because domestic corn production is significantly more expensive, according to Reuters.

"It's good for China to have a bit of a diversified supply of grains to meet their needs for feed ingredients," Erick Erickson, director of global strategies for the US Grains Council, told China Daily. "They have some experience in using sorghum for feed, but mostly they used it in their domestic alcohol production, and so this is really good news for American sorghum producers."

The US Grains Council is a private, non-profit corporation founded in 1960 to help develop export markets for US barley, corn, grain sorghum and other related products. The council now has nine international offices and programs in more than 50 countries

Historically, China imports the majority of its sorghum from Australia and Myanmar for alcohol use, according to a recent article published by Global Milling. However, the increasing demand for coarse grains has prompted China for the first time to expand its animal-feed ration to include sorghum, the article said.

Sorghum is known as a high-energy, drought tolerant crop with a wide range of applications, including animal feed and liquor, as well as ethanol, a gluten-free food product, and a building material, among other uses.

The US is the world's largest producer of sorghum. Of the 21 sorghum-producing states in the US, the top five in descending order in 2012 were Kansas, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and South Dakota, according to the US Grains Council.

This year, the US is forecast to harvest its largest bumper crop in four years with 10 million tons, from which it is expected that 30 percent to 40 percent of the crop will be exported, according to Reuters.

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