With four years of production on a quarter million acres, researcher have determined that benefits of RRA include a more productive and profitable crop. RRA users report a $110 per-acre advantage over conventional alfalfa. For many growers RRA also requires less use of crop protection products and extended stand life. “With this decision, the USDA has acknowledged that in these difficult economic times, America’s farmers need every advantage to stay competitive and help provide a reliable, affordable food supply for the U.S. and people worldwide,” McCaslin said. “To feed a hungry world, we need all types of agriculture – biotech, conventional and organic options. Forage Genetics supports alfalfa forage and seed production for all markets and is a leading alfalfa seed supplier to the biotech, conventional, export and organic markets,” he added.

“This is great news for farmers who have been waiting for the green light to plant Roundup Ready alfalfa,” said Steve Welker, alfalfa commercial lead at Monsanto. “The overwhelming positive feedback from the farmers who first planted Roundup Ready alfalfa and ongoing grower surveys indicate significant farmer interest in this product,” Welker said.

Bowles said NAFA “did a good job working with all segments of the seed industry in addressing all the issues surrounding RR alfalfa. “The industry paid attention to the farmers in Imperial Valley and recognized the legitimate concerns that the disadvantages of Roundup Ready alfalfa there outweighed the advantages. It makes me feel good that the industry was responsible and showed real concern for all the issues.”

Bowles said he will continue planting RR alfalfa as long as the specific herbicide-resistant varieties fit his farming operation. “The first RR alfalfa varieties we tried did not fit our soils and growing conditions very well. Later varieties did better. “Overall, our experience with the technology has been good. There have been no problem weed outbreaks. As long as growers follow herbicide label rates and mix herbicides, there should be no (weed resistance) problems,” he said.

Releasing RR alfalfa with no production restrictions was a relief to producers of the other major crops who were fearful that any USDA restrictions on where or how biotech alfalfa could be produced could have major consequences for them.

“We would like to thank Secretary Vilsack for keeping grower choice as a priority. Farmers need access to technology so that they can choose the option that is best for their farms,” said National Corn Growers Association Chairman Darrin Ihnen, from Hurley, S.D. “Biotechnology can improve a farm’s efficiency and decrease the amount of chemical needed for that crop. We need choice to raise more food, feed, fiber and fuel for the world’s growing needs.”

“This is the right decision,” said Jim Zimmerman, vice chairman of NCGA’s Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team, a grower from Rosendale, Wis. “A clean, full deregulation is the best decision for producers and lets farmers plant the kind of alfalfa they choose this spring.”