National Alfalfa Checkoff to Start This Fall
A national, voluntary, $1/bag alfalfa checkoff will start collecting money in September, based on summer and fall seed sales.
“Alfalfa is the third most valuable field crop, but it is the only one without a checkoff program,” says Beth Nelson, president of the National Alfalfa & Forage Alliance (NAFA). While USDA supports some alfalfa research, it’s typically less than 10% of those dollars directed toward crops like corn and wheat.
The new checkoff program, approved by the NAFA Board in February, will be voluntary. Alfalfa brand managers were asked to tell NAFA by the end of April whether they will participate in the program.
“Most of the major seed brands will participate,” says Nelson, generating perhaps $500,000 annually. If everyone participated, the program could generate $800,000. The $1/bag assessment will be made on any product that is at least 80% alfalfa.
Participating seed companies will charge growers $1 per bag, and then will remit that money to NAFA. NAFA will take no money to administer the program. The money will be targeted to support public alfalfa research looking at yield, water use, and new storage or harvest systems. A call for research proposals will go out this summer, and the final selection of projects to be supported will be made in December.