Adding a Alfalfa Growing Program to the Homestead

So far we have been able to keep GMO Alfalfa out of the Canadian Market but the question is for how much longer.. this is a concern to me for sure, I buy my hay from a local producer, and I do mean local, I often ride the edges of the hay fields with my horses and many times hay and straw are watched being cut, dried and at times are dropped at the farm on the way to being hauled home.

Still Alfalfa has a few other uses here on the farm, and so this year, I am going to start growing and holding back organic alfalfa on the farm.

Update April 2015: GM alfalfa will not be sold on market in Canada in 2015. Farmer and consumer protests in Canada have delayed the introduction of genetically modified (GM) alfalfa since 2013 and we now have confirmation that GM alfalfa seeds will not be sold again this year in Canada.This confirmation follows statements against the introduction of GM alfalfa in Western Canada from the farmer association Forage Seed Canada. Monsanto and Forage Genetics International continue to pursue future commercial sales in Canada of GM glyphosate tolerant “Roundup Ready” alfalfa as well as also other GM traits. (GM Roundup Ready alfalfa is already sold in the US).

A bit more of the struggle that has been ongoing on this issue..

The Canadian Biotechnology Action Network claims U.S. company Forage Genetics International wants to release alfalfa seeds with Monsanto’s genetically modified herbicide tolerant technology, called Roundup Ready, in Canada this year.

The NFU says Roundup Ready alfalfa will become another weed. Roundup Ready alfalfa has been approved for planting in the U.S. since 2011.

“We’re struggling to find even one farmer in our area who wants to use this GM alfalfa. Most farmers will pay dearly if GM alfalfa is allowed onto the market,” said Hilary Moore, an organic farmer who is president of the Lanark National Farmers Union Local 310.

Murray Bunnett, of New Brunswick, has farmed his entire life. Last week, he told CBC News he plans to take his concerns to Moncton-Riverview-Dieppe Conservative MP Robert Goguen.

Bunnett made the switch to organic crop production in the 1990s. He relies heavily on alfalfa in his crop rotation to help fertilize the soil. He said if a modified strain spreads to his fields, he can’t guarantee his crop is organic.

“When a person trespasses on somebody else’s property and it causes damage, the property owner can seek compensation,” he said. “But when the genetically modified crops trespass on farmers’ land, they can’t go after the company to get compensation. That’s fundamentally wrong.”

Monsanto disputed some of the information provided by demonstrators Tuesday.

“At this point, [Forage Genetics International] has not finalized any commercial plans for Eastern Canada but I guess maybe CBAN and the NFU are either not aware of that or have chosen to ignore the information that has been shared with them,” Monsanto Canada spokesperson Trish Jordan said in an email to CBC News. “From a Monsanto perspective, we are supporting FGI (our licensee) from a regulatory and stewardship perspective.

“We have been providing bi-annual updates to farmers and industry on this file for 10-plus years and we issue these public updates in the spring and fall of each year.”

Monsanto claims that organic alfalfa acres in Eastern Canada account for about 1.4 per cent of total alfalfa acreage in that region.

“That leaves 98.6 per cent of farmers choosing non-organic production methods,” Jordan said.

A rally was scheduled for 12 p.m. PT at the the Kootenay Co-op in Nelson, B.C.

Alfalfa is a high-protein feed for dairy cows, beef cattle, lambs, poultry, and pigs, but because labelling for genetically modified crops is not mandatory in Canada, it’s unlikely consumers will know they are eating altered crops.

NFU-Ontario president John Sutherland told there are a number of concerns about the release of genetically modified alfalfa, including:

  • The risk of contamination of non-genetically-modified alfalfa crops and seed stocks.
  • Increased seed and herbicide costs.
  • Spread of glyphosate-resistant weeds.

And that is where my own concerns come in.. trying to find Non-GMO soybean since its Canadian release has been tricky, its like trying to find non-GMO suger beets, I can find them, but almost all Canadian sugar is now produced from GMO sugar beets, I have gone back to making sure that the sugar I buy is only from cane, and pretty much from a single source, only some of my stores carry it now, and I make sure I tell them I want it. I hate the idea that someday, I will need to either drive to a big city to get it or order it online.

Alfalfa is needed to increase the protein count for my pasture livestock feeds (for my milking girls) for my homemade mix for my wee chicks, ducklings and so forth and its also needed to make Alfalfa meal for the garden use..

Alfalfa is a type of flowering plant that belongs to the pea family. It originates from south-east Asia. Cultivation of alfalfa started in Persia 6.000 years ago. Due to ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen and increase fertility of the soil, alfalfa is often cultivated as rotation crop (it improves quality of soil for the future crops).

Over the past ten years, its amazing to me how often something will be available one year, only to be gone the next While I do think it will be available in organic, the cost will be quite high at that point.

There will be more about growing, harvesting and using this plant in 2016


I forgot to ask, what are my USA readers and homesteaders an farmers doing in regards to the GMO Alfalfa in your neck of the woods?

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1 Response to Adding a Alfalfa Growing Program to the Homestead

  1. Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

    FG, I admire what you are doing; your work is priceless… And I had a brain-explosion while reading your post…
    1) As: The ONLY way to know if a seed or plant’s genes contain genetically modified technology (whether on purpose or by accident): is BY TESTING EACH AND EVERY ONE…
    So: As this is simply not possible, the only way to prevent plants from interbreeding with contaminated stock is to ensure there are no GMO’s available in the breeding pool.
    2) As: RoundUp kills a lot more than just “weeds”. We have NO IDEA just how much damage is being done to our soil’s microbiota by the toxin, glyphosate.
    So: We must hold on to what we have and protect it at all costs from gene-spliced manipulation and mindless poisoning.

    We’ve been cautioned against the over-use of AntiBiotics in medicine (which means “against life”). These technologies are also, quite literally AntiBiotics and should be – at the very least – viewed with a critical eye…

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