Ninety Producers, Handlers and Industry attend first Annual Meeting of High Plains Millet Association
December 19, 2017 – Sterling, CO – About 90 millet producers, handlers/processors and industry representatives attended the first annual meeting of High Plains Millet Association (HPMA) on Dec. 8 at Northeastern Junior College in Sterling.
HPMA President Chris Stum, a millet producer from Towner, welcomed the group and said “lack of research in developing new millet varieties and lack of new market creation has inhibited the expansion of this crop. The most recent commercial millet variety ‘Horizon’ is 14 years old and the major market is bird feed/seed. This has to change.” HPMA supports a producer referendum to establish a Colorado Millet Marketing Order to fund education, research and promotion programs.
Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture Don Brown addressed the annual meeting and told millet producers that the “Colorado Agricultural Marketing Act of 1939” would need to be amended to include millet as an agricultural commodity so producers can vote in a referendum to approve a millet marketing order and assessment to fund education, research and promotion programs. The Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) is proposing legislation to amend the 1939 law in the next session of the Colorado General Assembly that convenes Jan. 10, 2018. Once the legislature approves the change to the law, hearings and a referendum of producers can be conducted by CDA which administers Colorado marketing orders (such as wheat, corn, sunflower, potato).
Dr. Dipak Santra, Alternative Crops Breeder, University of Nebraska (UN) at Scottsbluff, gave a presentation entitled: “Proso Millet Breeding, Genetics, Genomics and Agronomic Research is Significantly Lacking in the U.S.” Santra said proso millet is the best alternative crop for the High Plains since it is a shallow rooted, low input crop which is adapted to arid/semi-arid climate, uses less water than all cereals and has a very short duration (60-90 days). There is no full-time proso millet breeding and genetics program in the U.S. and the Alternative Crops Breeding Program at UN has been breeding proso millet part-time as one of the several alternative crops it focuses on due to lack of funding. As a result, five proso millet varieties (Huntsman, Sunrise, Sunup, Earlybird and Horizon) are the only varieties available to Colorado millet producers and all were developed by UNL several decades ago. The most recent commercial millet variety “Horizon” is 14 years old.
Dr. Mark Brick, Head, CSU Soil and Crop Sciences Department discussed CSU’s mission in agricultural research as part of the Land Grant mission and potential for developing a millet breeding and research program at CSU. Brick talked about discussions with HPMA to redirect the current Dry Bean Breeder position at CSU to a Millet Breeder position which would require leveraging of funding through a Colorado Millet Marketing Order. These discussions led to the development of “Millet Vision Statement” by HPMA. Brick said “research would be done on how to improve yields with lower inputs.”
Darrell Hanavan, former executive director of Colorado Wheat (CWAC/CAWG/CWRF) who is advising HPMA during their organizational stage presented the “Millet Vision Statement.” Hanavan said the key to success of the vision statement is passage of a producer referendum to approve a millet marketing order and assessment to fund education, research and promotion programs which will provide producer funding to leverage with CSU for a world class millet breeding and research program. It will also provide producer funding for domestic and export market development. This would help HPMA in its mission “to provide sustainability to the millet industry through research, production and marketing.”
Elections were held for the HPMA board of directors comprised of millet farmers and handlers/processors and the following were elected: District #1: Darren Bauder, Fleming, CO; District #2: Jeff Farnik, New Raymer, CO; District #3: Nathan Northup, New Raymer, CO; District #4: Jack Maranville, Matheson, CO; District #5: Curt Sayles, Seibert, CO; District #6: Christopher Stum, Towner, CO; and District #7: Alex Bartkus, Watkins Grain (representing handlers/processors). The HPMA board of directors was seated and Stum was elected as President, Maranville as Vice President and Bauder as Secretary-Treasurer.
Colorado ranks number one in millet production in the U.S. with average production of 6,335,889 bushels valued at $23,009,944 annually.
HPMA was organized on March 11, 2017 with a mission “to provide sustainability to the millet industry through research, production and marketing.” For more information about HPMA visit its website at: https://sites.google.com/view/hpma
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