Why America’s Cows Need Your Voice at the USDA by Feb 16 To Stop GMO Alfalfa !
High quality, high protein Alfalfa is one of the primary food sources for dairy cows, especially in winter, with cows eating about 50 lbs or more of dry feed per day, or about 3% of their body weight of around 1500 lbs. In return for munching all that feed, and drinking lots of water, (25 to 50 gallons) a dairy cow can produce anywhere from 5 to 8 gallons of milk per day, depending where she is in her lactation cycle, about 56 lbs a day, or over 2,300 gallons a year or 19,825 lbs per year. (A cow’s production is typically measured in hundredweights, or units of a hundred lbs of milk, about 12.5 gallons.)
Organic dairy farming has seen tremendous growth in the last decade, with the number of organic dairy farms increasing by 79% from 2002 to 2007. Ag land used for organic production on those dairy farms increased by 83% over the same time. Organic milk and cheese is becoming more and more popular, especially for people and children with allergies and auto immune conditions who can’t tolerate regular milk. The 3 states with the highest number of dairy farms are Wisconsin, New York, and Vermont. The price of milk production per hundredweight for those three states for organic dairies was about $29, $32, and $34 dollars cwt for the year 2009. Prices, alas, for organic milk haven’t been keeping up, neither has it been for conventional milk in the past year, and dairy farms are losing money. http://www.cattlenetwork.com/D…
Now, Monsanto threatens to put the nail in the coffin, by deliberately contaminating their feed supply with GMO Alfalfa, destroying the ability of organic dairy farmers to provide non GMO food for their herds.
Late last year, the USDA released a court-ordered Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on Monsanto’s new genetically engineered Round-up Ready Alfalfa. A federal lawsuit, led by the Center for Food Safety and joined by The Cornucopia Institute and other plaintiffs, was won in 2007 compelling the USDA to conduct their first-ever environmental impact statement on a genetically engineered (GE) crop, alfalfa.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the USDA’s assessment approves of releasing a new genetically modified crop into the environment, despite the known risks this version of alfalfa poses to organic livestock agriculture.
Public comments are being accepted until February 16. Please let the USDA hear your voice. A broad coalition, composed of both organic and conventional farmers, is opposing Monsanto’s RR Alfalfa and the USDA particularly needs to hear from those involved with organic agriculture.
What’s different about organic farms?
A specific set of farming practices makes milk and other foods eligible for “certified organic” status. On organic dairies, cows must receive feed that was grown without the use of pesticides, commercial fertilizers or genetically-modified ingredients. They are not treated with supplemental hormones and are not given certain medications to treat illness. If they are given medication, then they must permanently leave the milking herd. They also must have access to the pasture.
Many of the same practices are utilized by conventional dairy farmers, as all farmers make the welfare of their animals and environmental stewardship top priorities.
But if Monsanto has its way, all Alfalfa grown in the United States, and eventually the world, WILL BE Genetically Modified to resist herbicides, being “Roundup Ready.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R… Why should you care ? Because Alfalfa is a huge crop, ranked 4th in production, and it is pollinated by bees. Did anyone ask the bees if they wished to eat this ? And this would force every alfalfa planting in the nation to eventually be cross contaminated against the will of of the consumer, the organic farmers, and anyone else who doesn’t want to be forced to consume genetically modified products nor force animals to eat massive quantities of them.