The California Alfalfa and Forage Symposium, presented by the UC Alfalfa Workgroup, is always a good place to get feedback from CAFA members and other industry sources. One thing that stood out at the 2005 symposium, held in Visalia last December, is the comments that CAFA members about the Association’s newsletter.

Several mentioned that they read the newsletter as soon as they get it and, several companies who advertised in CAFA News were pleased with the response they got. It would be nice to take credit for the positive comments, but most of the credit goes to Seth Hoyt’s hay market analysis articles. One CAFA member who works for a large grower is so eager to see Hoyt’s articles that we e-mail him the copy the day CAFA receives it.

A senior economist for the National Agricultural Statistics Service, California Field Office, Hoyt has been mentioned in this column before. But he deserves to be recognized again for his service to CAFA and the alfalfa and forage industry. His articles are thorough, highly informative and cover the major factors that drive the market, from acreage statistics to out-of-state hay shipments to the economic health of the dairy industry.

His 1,900-word article in the December issue of CAFA News offers insight into the factors that drove the 2005 market and the outlook for 2006. Last year CAFA mailed eight newsletters to its members and five of them had Hoyt’s market analysis articles. At last’s May UC Field Day in Davis, CAFA Board Member Philip Bowles of Bowles Farming in Los Banos, gave a brief talk about CAFA and noted that the market analysis articles are “worth the price of a membership.”

The symposium is also the site of the association’s annual meeting and in 2002 CAFA chair Jess Dancer changed the timing from an evening meeting to a breakfast gathering. It has been a success, drawing about 100 guests for the last two years. This year’s breakfast meeting was sponsored by DuPont Ag Products and the guest speaker was Ed Galvan, a dairy consultant to Congressman Devin Nunes, who represents the 21st Congressional District, which includes Fresno and Tulare counties. Congressman Nunes was unable to attend CAFA’s annual meeting due to a scheduling conflict.

Galvan spent more than 25 years in the dairy industry, including nine years as a dairy co-op manager. His dairy industry experience was evident as he summarized issues that California’s No. 1 agricultural industry faces. The annual meeting also marked the presentation of the first annual, “Jim Kuhn Leadership Award.” The award was dedicated to Jim Kuhn, whose life was cut short in a vehicle accident last August. An innovator who made significant contributions to the alfalfa and forage industry, Kuhn was a major force in establishing CAFA and supporting it from its inception.

The symposium was also an opportunity for CAFA to organize an evening meeting with other western states hay associations. The meeting was a follow up to last year’s effort work with the National Alfalfa and Forage Alliance, a recently formed organization will focus on working with members of Congress on issues such as the Farm Bill. It’s a development that all agree is sorely needed for the alfalfa and forage industry to move forward.