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Key Issues on NSA Agenda for 2005

Wednesday, December 15, 2004
filed under: Utilization/Trade

Securing future supplies of sulfentrazone (Spartan) is a key priority for the National Sunflower Association in 2005.

FMC Corporation, the company which makes Spartan herbicide 75DF, surprised the sunflower industry this past fall with an announcement of “manufacturing constraints” that will prevent production of the dry flowable product in 2005. The company indicated that a limited supply of the more expensive Spartan 4F (the company’s liquid formulation) will be available.

The company indicated that it expects the supply position to improve for the 2006 growing season. The NSA, which played a key role in EPA’s regulatory approval of Spartan, wants assurance of this, since sulfentrazone is the only product on the market that offers excellent control of kochia and other small-seeded broadleaf weeds in sunflower. No-till producers are particularly reliant upon sulfentrazone for weed control in sunflower.

Similar sulfentrazone-based products labeled on soybean and other crops such as Blanket and Authority are also in short supply for 2005. Nevertheless, executive director Larry Kleingartner says the NSA is prepared to support and assist in gaining 24C state labels on sunflower for Blanket and Authority if dealers have supplies available. He says the NSA is also exploring possible Section 18 alternatives of similar chemistries to sulfentrazone with weed scientists and manufacturers.

See a complete article on the Spartan issue, and alternative weed control strategies, online at Click on the link “sunflower magazine,” “view archives” then the article “2005 Spartan Supply in Doubt.”

Continued funding of the USDA-ARS led National Sclerotinia Initiative ( is also a priority. The NSA has been instrumental in securing federal funding for this concentrated research effort, aimed at neutralizing the economic threat of Sclerotinia to seven different crops: sunflower, soybean, canola, edible dry beans, chickpeas, lentils and dry peas. “Making good progress on both stalk and head rot are vitally important for the success of the sunflower industry,” says Kleingartner.

It’s hard to believe, but debate on a new farm bill is also around the corner: federal lawmakers expect to begin hearings on the new bill next year. The current farm bill expires in 2007. That same year, a huge amount of CRP land – about 16 million acres, over half of which are in the seven sunflower-producing Plains states – will expire. With a federal budget deficit looming over a new farm bill, and program cuts all but certain, the NSA is suggesting that one solution is to simply allow class I or type A land to be brought back into production.

The NSA will also be watching ongoing international trade negotiations, as a Brazilian challenge of the U.S. cotton support program within the framework of the World Trade Organization may have implications for future U.S. farm programs, says NSA president Mike Clemens, a Wimbledon, N.D. producer.

The 2005 growing season will be pivotal for U.S. sunflower supply. All of the various sectors are experiencing demand growth, whether it be high oleic, NuSun, in-shell or the kernel market, says Clemens. In the meantime, acres have declined and customers are worried about having a consistent supply. This year was especially difficult with intended acres not getting planted because of a very wet or dry spring, depending on the area, further aggravated by the cool growing season in the northern area. “The sunflower industry needs more acres and more supply to be viewed as a more reliable supplier in the marketplace,” says Clemens. “Prices will encourage farmers to consider increasing their sunflower acreage next year, and hopefully, weather will cooperate with planting and production.”

Food companies are required to include trans fats on labels by Jan. 1, 2006. This has opened new market opportunities for both NuSun and high oleic sunflower oil. But there has to be sufficient volume of the oils to attract and keep customers. “It should be an interesting winter as the market attempts to attract acres,” says Clemens.

Input on priority issues is encouraged from sunflower producers and others in the sunflower industry. Information on contacting the NSA, as well as a list of current NSA officers and directors, is always provided on page three of The Sunflower magazine. – Tracy Sayler

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