Last month CAFA mailed a survey to approximately 40 percent of its members to take the pulse of growers and other alfalfa and forage industry members and get feedback on prioritizing key issues. In the 10 years as CAFA’s executive director there have been major changes in the regulatory field and it seems that some regulators won’t be satisfied until agriculture goes belly up. At the same time there has been a rise in the amount of environmental groups that file suits at the drop of a hat and want to revert to 17th century agriculture.

In our first year at CAFA the state water boards were ramping up regulations that would be put in place within the next two to three years. Since then there have been a number of tighter regulations for water and air quality and other burdensome policies that never seem to end.

The idea for a survey started last November when a San Joaquin Valley grower asked the board of directors if it would put standardized hay testing on CAFA’s agenda in 2010. It’s an issue that CAFA looked at several years ago and it has surfaced a number of times since then. Asking CAFA members to weigh in on the subject of standardized hay testing was an opportunity to add other issues ranging from RR alfalfa, to new alfalfa pesticides and topics that include the dairy industry and water quality regulations.

The survey has a large write-in space and we encourage CAFA members to use it if there are other issues that were overlooked. And, we’ve asked our members to critique the Association and tell us what’s good and what needs to be changed. As we’ve said numerous times in this column: CAFA welcomes non-members to also contact us if there are issues that are detrimental to the alfalfa and forage industry.

Stevia anyone?

Why would an ag seed company become involved with stevia? And what the heck is stevia anyway? For alfalfa growers, the S&W Seed Co. in Five Points, Calif., is well known for its varieties, including high-yielding salt tolerant varieties.

We were surprised when we learned that the company is partnering with a stevia leaf-processing company that operates in Asia, Africa and South America. We had heard of stevia, but knew very little about it other then it is a natural sweetener that is used in place of sugar. It’s widely used in many countries and is gaining momentum in the U.S. S&W’s venture is intriguing and it will be interesting to see if stevia becomes a viable cash crop for California.

Alfalfa & Forage Symposium

The Visalia Convention Center is the site of this year’s Alfalfa & Forage Symposium being held on Dec. 1 and Dec. 2. CAFA will host its annual meeting breakfast on Dec. 2 and we’re pleased to announce that hay market analyst Seth Hoyt will be our guest speaker. For more information on the 2010 Symposium, log on to the UC Alfalfa Workgroup Web site, www.alfalfa.ucdavis.edu.