A leader in the California alfalfa industry predicts almost total adoption of RR alfalfa nationwide within a decade.

"After conducting a thorough and transparent examination of alfalfa through a multi-alternative environmental impact statement (EIS) and several public comment opportunities, APHIS has determined that Roundup Ready alfalfa is as safe as traditionally bred alfalfa," Vilsack said. "All of the alfalfa production stakeholders involved in this issue have stressed their willingness to work together to find solutions. We greatly appreciate and value the work they've done so far and will continue to provide support to the wide variety of sectors that make American agriculture successful."

“We are very pleased that the USDA has deregulated the product without conditions,” said McCaslin. McCaslin was not surprised that USDA released the sale of RR alfalfa without restrictions because the industry has proven it can be self-regulated to protect organic producers as well as alfalfa seed exporters.

The National Alfalfa and Forage Association forged a stakeholder agreement that alfalfa seed fields would be isolated by 3 miles from other seed fields where honeybees are used for pollination. In conventional certified seed production that isolation is only 165 feet.

“Our argument all along has been the industry has designed a program that is working, and there is no role for the government to play in this issue,” said McCaslin, who said Vilsack’s referral to “alfalfa production stakeholders involved in this issue have stressed their willingness to work together to find solutions” was a reference to the NAFA effort.

McCaslin points out that during the four-year seed sales ban, RR alfalfa seed has continued to be produced without any contamination under the industry’s stewardship guidelines.

To recognize the importance of the exported seed market, McCaslin points out that four years ago Monsanto and Forage Genetics agreed with growers in California’s Imperial Valley not to grow RR alfalfa seed or sell RR alfalfa seed for planting in the Southern California desert valley.

“Almost all of the alfalfa seed produced in Imperial Valley is exported. A lot of alfalfa there is grown for forage and seed as well,” noted McCaslin. Monsanto and Forage Genetic are abiding by the wishes of growers there by not introducing RR alfalfa into the valley.

Philip Bowles of Los Banos, Calif., president of the California Alfalfa and Forage Association, predicts rapid adoption of RR alfalfa nationwide. “My personal prediction is that there will be no demand for conventional alfalfa in five or six years because of the widespread adoption of this technology,” he said. Bowles Farming was one of more than 5,000 farmers who planted more than 250,000 acres of RR alfalfa before the San Francisco judge banned the sale until USDA came up with another environmental assessment.