In a first step to help offset the research funding gap, the National Alfalfa & Forage Alliance (NAFA) in January will kick off the first ever alfalfa checkoff called the U.S. Alfalfa Farmer Research Initiative.
The new checkoff is a farmer-funded investment in alfalfa-related research to help drive future innovation and profitability in the alfalfa industry.
NAFA is asking alfalfa growers and industry representatives to weigh in on research topics they believe are a priority for the industry. Growers can visit NAFA’s website at www.alfalfa.org to provide their input.
The survey results will be used to establish research priorities for the first call for proposals to be announced this coming.
The NAFA board of directors voted to start the national checkoff program to facilitate a farmer-funded program to advance industry research. The U.S. Alfalfa Farmer Research Initiative, implemented voluntarily by seed brand, will be assessed at the rate of $1 per bag of alfalfa seed.
Beth Nelson, NAFA president, says, “The unique thing about this program is that 100 percent of the funds raised will be used to support public research into alfalfa and alfalfa forage systems, and it will be driven by the alfalfa industry, primarily farmers.”
Alfalfa is the third most valuable field crop in the U.S. The value of all hay in 2015 was $19.1 billion; alfalfa alone was $10.3 billion.