Group tackling long-term regulatory grower issues While current market conditions may be foremost on the minds of hay growers, the California Alfalfa & Forage Association is working quietly to address developing regulations that have long-term implications for alfalfa and forage producers. CAFA was formed in 1998 to give growers and other members of the industry a voice and inform the public about the environmental and economic benefits of the state's 1.5 million acres of alfalfa and other forages.

The information effort is also being directed to regulators in face-to-face meetings that include grower input on pending regulations. Last year the University of California Alfalfa Workgroup and CAFA formed the Alfalfa Pesticide Task Force. Grower members of CAFA and UC specialists have explained production practices to regulators to help ensure that proposed mitigation measures are practical to achieve.

The Pesticide Task Force is focusing considerable attention on water quality issues, including the presence of organophosphate insecticides in surface water, herbicide movement into groundwater and emerging Total Maximum Daily Load regulations.

Meetings prove encouraging A great deal of work lies ahead, but meetings with representatives of the Department of Pesticide Regulation and Water Quality Boards are encouraging. Regulators are willing to consider recommendations from growers representing CAFA and they're also learning the complexities of hay production.

A handful of growers have taken time from busy schedules to represent the alfalfa and forage industry at Pesticide Task Force meetings, which are usually held in Sacramento. A consultant to the pesticide industry who attended a meeting earlier in the year recently summed up the value of grower involvement by saying, "it demonstrated a commitment by growers. It was clear that they were credible, cared about issues and are making an effort to do the right thing."

CAFA has launched its 2001 membership drive. Membership dues help fund continuing involvement in the Alfalfa Pesticide Task Force, and efforts such as ensuring water availability and support for efforts to standardize forage quality measurements.

CAFA's annual meeting will be held Dec. 11 at the 2000 National Alfalfa Symposium in Las Vegas. Anyone planning to attend the Symposium can receive discounts on Symposium registration and CAFA 2001 membership. For more information, call 415/892-0167, or e-mail CAFA at, akiess@cmc.net.