The following letter is in reply to our February editorial calling on hay and forage groups to work in a united effort. It was written by Harlan Anderson, a Cokato, MN, farmer. Anderson, called the father of the 1985 Farm Bill, is also asking growers for their feedback to the following question: If you had the chance, what forage-related issues would you like to discuss with your Washington representatives? Anderson invites all responses to be sent to him by email at or comment in the article-commenting form below.

"The Forage Industry Needs A Bigger Voice" is true. Be careful what you ask for because sometimes you get something you do not want.

I have spent most of my farming career around forages. I have 1942 movies of my father with his inventions relating to his desire to make haying more efficient and beneficial to the livestock industry. Forages have the best green story to be told in all of agriculture. Hay producers were conservationists before Webster had the word.

Do you think maybe the forage specialists are not serving the producers? Why fund efforts that do not support what we want? What if farmers and their clients do not want Roundup Ready alfalfa? There is no hay shortage in my area to call for better production. What should the best 'green' crop presence be in Washington? Are corn, soybean, wheat and dairy farmers making too much money today because of all the help from Washington? I think forages are produced in every state of the union. Will trucking regulations change our profitability?

I agree with Dan Putman, who said: “Forages have such a good story to tell in terms of environmental benefits; I don't think we've been that successful in telling it.”

To Miles Kuhn, AFGC president, and to the lady who talked to me last week about a horse checkoff program, I would have the same response, "That was new 40 years ago."

We need to be innovative and producer-friendly. We need leadership and a vision that is ahead of its time. Putting a lot of money in one place just attracts corruption. Great ideas and great leadership attract a crowd of excited people who want to get things done. A Bigger Voice doesn't mean more money or members. - Harlan Anderson