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When all is said and done

PD Editor Darren Olsen Published on 02 March 2010

The Roundup Ready roller coaster is finally looking like it will make its way back to the starting gates. For some, the decision will be a welcomed close to a debate that has gripped the forage industry for the better part of a decade.

For others, it will feel like losing a longtime friend and may result in continued legal struggles yet to be played out. No matter how the story unfolds, there are some people who will feel like winners and some who will feel like losers.

Over the last few years, I have been asked by many people about my thoughts on the topic and what I think the state of the forage industry will be once the final rulings have been made.

I had several opportunities to reflect on this very topic at the recent Mid America Alfalfa Expo (to read others’ comments on the topic of using biotraits in alfalfa, read our expanded ‘In your own words’ section). Below is my final comments on the matter until we have an official ruling to work with.

To begin with, I am not opposed to using the latest technology to help develop tools for those growers who wish to have more options in producing crops they desire.

I believe there is room for everyone to produce the crops they feel best about raising. I don’t think it is a matter of tolerance more than it is a matter of stewardship, and I feel American producers understand that better than almost anyone else.

That, I believe, is the key to succeeding with this and any other improvements and opportunities which come in the future – the stewardship of American producers.

No matter what happens in the future, forage producers will still have to do what they have always done. They will wake up each morning focused on creating the best products they can for the clients they have.

Whether it be silage made to feed their own dairy herd or high-quality alfalfa shipped several states away, each producer spends his days doing what he does best.

No matter what comes down the pipe by way of improved tools and technology, it is up to the grower to capitalize on and utilize it to make the most of it. It is up to each person to decide what is the best way to proceed. With the changes will come added opportunities for growers who would rather have traditionally grown or even organic alfalfa hay. Each producer will have to take the time to determine what direction their business will proceed for his current and future clients. It has always been that way, and I don’t see things changing.

Just as in the past, those who spend their time worrying more about cutting a deal rather than what they are producing will find themselves in a position of not having what they want, when they need it.

Just as before, there will be individuals who will spend their time doing what they shouldn’t because they can, rather than doing what they should because it is right.

The deregulation of this and any other future gene to alfalfa won’t change that. Those types of choices will be made irregardless of what becomes of the judge’s decision.

That is the beauty and the curse of any group of people. Everyone has the opportunity to make choices for themselves, and those who live in the wake of those decisions will have to determine how they navigate the eddies and waves that are sure to come from others’ choices.

No one is immune, but for many producers, it is all part of the life they have chosen to lead. That is the great part of being a producer here and now – the opportunity to continue to do what has always been done.

I have a feeling we will wake up the morning after the ruling and most everyone will go about producing forages just as they always have.

The only difference will be if we have another tool for some to use or not. Fields will have to be irrigated, hay will be cut, bales will be moved in and out of storage, animals will be fed.

The choices that have made up quality forage production will continue to be made, and people will continue to move from day to day doing the best job they can. I just have a feeling the hay will continue to be made when all is said and done.  FG

Darren Olsen
Progressive Forage Grower Editor