Woman buying milk.
October 27, 2016

Dairy and Crop Farmers To Aggressively Defend Bio Tech, Sustainable Practices

 |  By: Jim Dickrell

Dairy and crop farmers announced today that they will aggressively defend biotechnology and other practices that improve sustainability, going so far as to publicly call out and challenge food companies who misrepresent what biotechnology offers.

In a press conference this morning, farmers who lead the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (USDRA), announced the “straight talk” campaign. The hope is to meet food company executives in their board rooms or in farm fields to discuss the short- and long-term implications of banning certain production practices, such as the use of bio-technology.

“We’re really hoping we do not have to go after companies publicly, but we certainly will and we will call them out [if they misrepresent facts],” says Randy Krotz, USFRA CEO.

The tipping point came this summer, says Randy Mooney, a Missouri dairy farmer and NMPF chairman,  when Dannon announced it will produce a line of GMO-free yogurt, representing half of its yogurt sales, from cows that are fed non-GMO feed.  

“Dannon should be standing on the side of science and telling the truth, not trying to make up for lost market share,” says Mooney.

“I’m concerned and frustrated,” he says. “This is a move away from biotechnology and away from sustainability…. What we’ve seen in the dairy industry, if one marketer does it, then another marketer and another and another does it.”

Use of technology in crop genetics, precision ag and conservation tillage have dramatically increased both yields and measures of sustainability over the last 30 years, according to analysis done by The Keystone Center. For example, corn and soybean yields have doubled per acre, yet soil erosion has decreased by two thirds per bushel. Energy to produce these crops is down 44 to 48%, and greenhouse gas emissions are down 36 to 49%.

“We need every tool in the tool chest to be sustainable…and to accomplish what is being demanded of us from consumers,” says Nancy Kavazanjian, a Wisconsin crop farmer and USFRA chairwoman.