Alfalfa is the third most valuable field crop produced in the U.S., valued at over $9.3 billion, $1.2 billion more than wheat, according to 2017 figures recently released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). “Alfalfa needs to take its rightful position along side corn, soybean, wheat, cotton, and rice which are often referred to as the “Big 5,” said Beth Nelson, President of the National Alfalfa & Forage Alliance (NAFA).
NAFA has worked to increase legislators’ and U.S. agency officials’ awareness of the crop. Last November, USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture awarded more than $2 million in Alfalfa and Forage Research Program (AFRP) funding to study an array of topics affecting the alfalfa industry.
In February, NAFA representatives talked with House and Senate Ag Committee staff about the need for new risk management tools (crop insurance) providing an adequate safety net for forage farmers. Because alfalfa is not a program crop, current risk management tools contained in the Farm Bill are not available to alfalfa farmers. Senator McConnell helped to get language into last farm bill to pursue development of effective forage crop insurance. NAFA continues to work with USDA-RMA to develop such programs.
Dr. Ray Smith, UK forage specialist, is a NAFA board member. Contact him if you want to learn more about NAFA activities or to give input on NAFA’s efforts to promote the value of alfalfa and all forages in D.C.