The federal judge who essentially told the Center for Food Safety (CFS) to take a hike did a service for the alfalfa industry and CAFA as well. For more than a year CAFA’s board of directors spent a considerable amount of time supporting Roundup Ready alfalfa during the deregulation phase and the court case. More time is now available this year to focus on a number of issues that include prior subjects and new ones in 2012.

In late January CAFA decided to tackle several issues that will keep the grower-led-board busy again this year. In the past CAFA monitored and responded to several water issues, especially chlorpyrifos (Lorsban-LockOn). Among the issues on the agenda this year is the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, a subject that will continue to ramp up as seen recently. On Feb. 16 California Congressman Devin Nunes’ bill, H.R. 1837, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Water Reliability Act, was approved by the House Natural Resources Committee. According to Nunes, the bill is designed to restore water to farms and rural areas, protect property rights and eliminate the $12 billion peripheral canal. But as expected it will be an uphill battle, especially if the bill reaches the Senate.

CAFA’s discussion during the board meeting included the Delta Stewardship Council which was formed in 2009. Four of the seven members are appointed by the governor while the Senate and Assembly appoint one member each. The chair of the Delta Protection Commission is the seventh member. One of the major issues is metering water diversions from the Delta, and farmers will have to report by next year.

Also on the CAFA agenda for 2012 are issues that were taken from a survey that was sent to about 200 growers throughout the California. Nearly everyone who responded listed standardized hay testing as the most important subject. It wasn’t a big surprise that there was an overwhelming response, but it did confirm the need to make changes. Last year the board began looking for ways to make inroads on the subject and will continue to do so again this year. It’s a major project and one that will require a significant amount of money.

Another survey topic that received a good response called for more information on dairy industry trends, something that CAFA has explored before. The board was unanimous at the January meeting when CAFA’s chairman, Robert Ferguson, recommended finding a dairy industry specialist who will attend meetings and provide insight that will be of value to both the alfalfa and dairy industries. 

As always there will be room for other issues that pop up, something that never fails to occur during the year. Last year for example, CAFA was called on to help streamline the USDA’s Weekly Hay Report in California. At about the same time, CAFA was asked to play a role in keeping the Department of Pesticide Regulation from placing strict regulations on Velpar. We encourage members and non-members to bring up issues that we may have overlooked — whether they’re local, regional or statewide.