A new organization has been formed to promote alfalfa and influence legislation on behalf of producers and others in the alfalfa seed industry.

The National Alfalfa Alliance replaces the Alfalfa Council, originally the Certified Alfalfa Seed Council. It'll have a similar, but broader, mission compared to the previous group, says Mark McCaslin, president of Forage Genetics International, West Salem, WI.

The Alfalfa Council's main goal was to promote the use of proprietary alfalfa varieties, primarily through educational means. That function will continue in the new group. In fact, it probably will continue some of the programs started by the council.

Lobbying in Washington will be an added function, according to McCaslin.

“The corn, soybean, cotton, sugar and peanut industries all are well-organized, and all have full- or part-time lobbyists,” he says. “But alfalfa has never had anything like that. It's the third largest crop in the country, but the industry has been too fractionated. We've never been organized to be effective at speaking on our common interests to federal policymakers.”

The new group's membership will be broader, too. The National Alfalfa Alliance will include not only seed producers, but also alfalfa breeding and seed production organizations.

Paul Frey, president of Cal-West Seeds, Woodland, CA, is the first president. Jim Wadsworth, Corcoran, CA, and Mike Nichols, Parma, ID, are vice president and secretary, respectively. Both are seed producers.

McCaslin is treasurer, and Rod Christensen of Ag Management, Kennewick, WA, is executive director. For more information, contact Christensen at 100 N. Fruitland, Suite B, Kennewick, WA 99336. Phone: 509-585-5460.