Forage producers and industry experts were urged to express their thoughts and hopes for the coming farm bill during the recent Midwest Forage Association (MFA) Farm Bill Forum/Research Summit.

Rob Larew, representing Collin Peterson (D-MN), ranking minority leader on the U.S. House Ag Committee, and Betsy Croker, Senate Ag Committee majority staff member, spoke via satellite with MFA members early last month.

Growers and industry folk alike asked the Washington insiders the likely fates of the Conservation Reserve Program and Conservation Security Program. There was some discussion of extending the current farm bill another year to allow World Trade Organization negotiations to conclude.

Although the programs are being looked at, it's too soon to predict what the farm bill will encompass, Larew and Croker said. They urged MFA members to offer their opinions at future farm bill hearings.

Other speakers discussed recent and ongoing research in the areas of: manure on alfalfa, the impact of alfalfa hay NDF digestibility on dairy cows, and alfalfa and switchgrass breeding in the Northern Great Plains.

Craig Rice from the Risk Management Agency discussed forage crop insurance options. MFA is working with the Risk Management Agency to make forage crop insurance more worthwhile to farmers. Forage specialist Dan Undersander talked about the past and future of rakes and mergers. Other topics included biomass-derived energy and NRCS conservation programs.

MFA is a merger of the Wisconsin Forage Council and the Minnesota Forage and Grassland Council, plus local forage councils in North Dakota and South Dakota, which didn't have state councils.