A new, regional forage council is expected to be formally organized later this month.

The Wisconsin Forage Council and the Minnesota and South Dakota Forage and Grassland Councils plan to merge into the Midwest Forage Association. Local forage councils in North Dakota, which doesn't have a state council, will also become part of the new group.

In addition, state councils in Iowa and two other Midwestern states have been invited to join the merger.

Merging the Minnesota and Wisconsin councils has been discussed for several years, says Paul Peterson, University of Minnesota extension forage specialist. He believes the new group will be able to provide more and better information to growers through regional meetings, newsletters, etc.

“We'll now have a better structure for bringing together the best expertise across four or more states,” says Peterson.

“We plan to keep the good things of the existing organizations and build on them,” adds Dan Undersander, University of Wisconsin extension forage agronomist.

A key initiative of the association is to be more “proactive for forages,” says Undersander. It'll get involved in the development of legislation and government programs that impact forage producers.

It's expected that a management firm, Beth Nelson and Associates of St. Paul, MN, will be hired as executive director. The company holds similar positions with several other commodity organizations, and knows Midwestern legislators, says Undersander.

The Wisconsin council currently has about 600 members; the Minnesota council, about 500. Those who've paid their 2004 dues will automatically become members of the Midwest Forage Association. Dues for new members are expected to be $50/year. For an optional $10 more, they'll also gain membership in the American Forage and Grassland Council.

For more information, call Beth Nelson at 651-484-3888.