At last year’s symposium CAFA changed its usual way of meeting with its members by holding a breakfast meeting to discuss the organization’s accomplishments during the year. The breakfast meeting, a mainstay for several years, was dropped in favor of an evening event on the first day of the symposium. Last year’s symposium was a Western Alfalfa & Forage Conference held in Las Vegas that brought a large number of growers and other alfalfa and forage industry members.

This year’s symposium is in California and for the first time since 1991 it will be held in Sacramento. Besides the breakfast meeting, we’re also bringing back the auction, a popular addition to the program. In past years we’ve received a variety of donated auction items, ranging from shirts, jackets, alfalfa seed and even a truckload of high-test alfalfa. The auction will take place on the evening of the first day of the symposium on Dec. 11. Donations can be brought directly to the CAFA booth or sent to the CAFA office (36 Grande Vista, Novato, CA 94947).  

This year’s symposium is sponsored by UCCE, Agriculture and Natural Resources, and UC Davis Plant Sciences, plus the California Wheat Commission. There are more than 2.7 million hay and grain crops in the state, with alfalfa and wheat taking up the highest acreage. According to the UC Alfalfa Workgroup’s website (, the conference will focus on global issues, economics and crop production. There will be more than 30 speakers and topics will include water management, fertilizers, nutrients, crop quality and pest management.

As usual there will be a pre-symposium tour and this year there’s a full-day tour of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta region. There’s much to see in the Delta, which is the largest estuary on the West Coast. Those who take the tour will see the region’s agricultural wildlife, natural resource and water issues, especially those linked to forages and grains. In addition tour members will also get a chance to learn about farming in the Delta region. The 2012 symposium is being held at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel which is only five miles from downtown Sacramento. Other close-by locations include the state Capitol and Old Town Sacramento. For full details, visit http://alfalfa.

Much of last months CAFA column was dedicated to Prop 37, which calls for labeling of genetically engineered foods. An op-ed piece in the San Francisco Chronicle in August made a strong reason why Prop 37 should be voted down in November. I was surprised in September to read a SF Chronicle editorial that is against labeling of GE foods. Several other newspapers had the same opinion. The Redding Record Searchlight, for example, wrote ‘GMO labeling: More lawsuits, not more safety.’ The Chronicle editorial said Prop 37 would be “fraught with vague and problematic provisions that could make it costly for consumers and a legal nightmare for those who grow, process or sell food.” The editorial also referred to Prop 65, which has been involved in 16,000 legal actions in the past 26 years.