As a producer, knowing where your assessment dollars are spent and how they are used helps justify the investment. Colorado sunflower growers will soon have an opportunity to vote on an amendment to the Colorado Sunflower Marketing Order.
The referendum will allow Colorado sunflower growers to vote on a sunflower assessment increase to a new rate of 6¢/cwt. Currently, the assessment is set by statute at 3¢/cwt. The increase will be invested in high-priority sunflower research projects that will discover yield improvement strategies such as disease and insect management, improved hybrid testing strategies and quality improvement to both oil and confection type sunflower.
Leon Zimbelman, president of the Colorado Sunflower Administrative Committee, states, “Increasing the sunflower assessment will allow more investment into sunflower production research right here in Colorado. That will translate into more profit for Colorado sunflower producers.”
Ballots will be mailed to current sunflower growers in Colorado. Growers will be instructed to cast their vote and mail it to the Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA). The CDA will count them and report the results to Agriculture Commissioner John Salazar. “The Sunflower Marketing Order is a key component of the industry, and I encourage our sunflower growers to actively participate in this process,” says Salazar. “I look forward to hearing from our growers concerning this important vote.”
Checkoff councils/commissions from the states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Kansas — and Colorado — currently participate with the NSA, as 50% or more of each state group’s annual revenue is directed to the national organization. Those funds are further enhanced with industry assessments, allowing the ability to expand that income even further with other grants, including a market development grant from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service.
NSA-funded research specific to Colorado producers over the last few years (since 2008) include: planting date and plant populations effect on Dectes; nitrogen management for irrigated sunflower; irrigation scheduling under limited water conditions; utilizing supplemental irrigation in southwestern Colorado; dryland crop rotations; monitoring of downy mildew, Verticillium and charcoal rot. Many projects are funded over multiple years and all involve the Colorado State University system or the USDA-ARS unit based at Akron, Colo.
Another example of needed funding would be the value of the foreign market development for confection sunflower. The confection crop grown in Colorado fields is practically tailor-made for the Spanish in-shell market, and processors shop specifically for “High Plains” confections. Grower-funded money is matched by federal dollars to enhance market strategies in crucial export markets like Spain and Mexico.
“The combination of assessment dollars and industry funds means everyone working together for the common good,” Zimbelman adds. “When one of my assessment dollars brings a 10-fold return, I consider that a great investment.”
For more information on the upcoming assessment increase vote, contact Ron Meyer, executive director of the Colorado Sunflower Administrative Committee, at (719) 349-1101 (cell) or (719) 346-5571 (office).
— Sonia Mullally
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