In the near future CAFA will launch another membership drive to help the association do its job to protect the alfalfa and forage industry. The grower-led board of directors has established an effective agenda that is getting results despite a shoestring budget below $50,000 annually. The key to success has been a dedicated board of directors who work without compensation, plus the help of growers and other industry members who support CAFA. It has been successful and the membership drive is important for the entire alfalfa and forage industry.

Like other CAFA members, board members pay their annual dues like everyone else, which range from $50 to $150 per year. (See below for membership dues.) Approximately 90 percent of all the money that’s collected comes from annual dues. Of the 11 board members, eight are growers who are located in four regions in California — Intermountain, North Central, South Central, and Desert region.

Unlike other large commodities, alfalfa’s statewide production and other factors make it more difficult to form an assessment program. However, a well-run voluntary organization can have an impact and develop a strong voice. As stated on several occasions, our association’s affiliation with the National Alfalfa and Forage Alliance has opened CAFA’s ability to be more active in developing contacts with members of Congress and regulatory agencies in the capitol.

It’s not uncommon for non-members to ask what they get for a CAFA membership and it’s a fair question. If you’re a grower, hay broker, seed producer, or anyone who benefits from the alfalfa/forage industry, the first answer to the question is CAFA works on your behalf and it’s the only organization you can turn to that’s dedicated to the industry.

A grower board member recently put it in perspective by saying: “We’re dedicated to addressing problems day-in and day-out, and year-in and year-out.” He went on to say there’s “very little time to deal with issues, but CAFA can and does its job to fulfill our mission.” If you’re not a member and join, the annual dues will help support your industry and your own business, as well.

China imports more hay

Three years ago I got a call from Canada and the caller’s accent was difficult to understand, but I got the gist of what she wanted. A 17-member delegation from China was coming to the United States and she wanted them to meet with CAFA. It was apparent that the delegation’s purpose was to learn as much as possible about alfalfa production. The liaison in Canada suddenly pulled back, but it was obvious the delegation wanted to learn as much as possible about alfalfa in California.

In the past three years we’ve seen China buy alfalfa from the U.S. Last year all alfalfa imports totaled 276,000 tons, a 26 percent increase. The May edition of Hay & Forage Grower, written by Rick Mooney, has interesting data on the subject. According to the article, there’s a “frenetic pace” for the dairy industry to supply people in urban areas. To get an idea of how things are changing, China now has dairies that are milking more than 20,000 cows.

The article is “Why The Chinese Want Our Hay” on page 16 of the May Hay & Forage Grower. You can also see it at,