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.”

Honorary award well deserved for Harry Cline

In last month’s Western Farm Press I was happy to see Harry Cline receive an honorary High Cotton Award at the Beltwide Conference in San Antonio. I’ve known Harry for nearly 40 years and I learned a lot from him. As a freelancer I was amazed at his knowledge of cotton and whatever other crops he wrote about.

(See related: Old curmudgeon taking final lap to finish line)

In 2008 I was surprised to see a column that Harry devoted to alfalfa, including its benefits and how to keep CAFA going. He put it this way: “Every hay grower, hay trucker, custom harvester, hay broker, seed producer, hay harvesting/handling equipment manufacturer, wholesaler and retailer, tarp makers and pole barn contractors, dairyman and any one else associated with California forage production should be a CAFA member ... If you’re involved in any way with the California alfalfa production, you should be a CAFA member. It behooves you to support your industry.”

Harry has done his share of keeping the alfalfa industry in the news and CAFA appreciates his efforts over the years. That’s the good news. But there’s also another side. The Feb. 2 Western Farm Press announced that Harry “will be retiring soon.” I’ve worked with Cary Blake, who takes Harry’s position, and Cary is an excellent editor. Harry will work on certain programs until the end of this year, but I’ll bet you see him doing what he loves to do. That and the Dallas Cowboys will keep him busy for a long time.