Members of the alfalfa and forage industry around the country traveled to Washington, D.C. in February to take part in a Fly-In hosted by the National Alfalfa and Forage Alliance. CAFA was represented by board member Philip Bowles of Bowles Farming in Los Banos, Calif., who summed up the event below.  

“This year I represented CAFA at the National Alfalfa and Forage Alliance Board meeting and annual Fly-In in Washington, D.C., held Feb. 12-14. NAFA is a nationwide umbrella organization composed of genetic suppliers, equipment and chemical manufacturers, and hay and seed grower organizations, all with a common aim: to promote the well-being of the hay and forage industry, and to educate the public (including government) about the importance of forage crops. Because alfalfa is grown in so many states, under so many conditions, what might seem like good policy for one region may not be useful or welcome in another. This point was drawn out clearly in the board meeting, where the majority of grower groups politely said 'No thank you,' to tentative proposals seeking to be included in the Title I ‘shallow loss’ subsidy program.

“However, we approved of the organization working with the Federal RMA to craft a crop insurance program that could be of use to growers in certain areas. Following this, sub-groups spent two days calling on a variety of congressional and regulatory offices, 'consciousness-raising' and asking that the pitiful level of federal funding for alfalfa research be raised to something approaching that of the 'program crops' (corn and soybeans) each of which receives over 10 times the level of annual research funding that alfalfa does. (Not to mention the subsidies those producers receive!) Given the present legislative gridlock, I would not expect much change any time soon. However, Washington is a place that rewards persistence and repetition instead of new ideas, and NAFA’s efforts may well bear fruit over time.”