NAFA Press Release: The importance of alfalfa
March 2, 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Beth Nelson, President
ONE OF THE NATION’S MOST REGENERATIVE CROPS IS ALSO NATION’S 3rd MOST VALUABLE FIELD CROP
St. Paul, MN – According to newly released figures by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), alfalfa is the nation’s third most valuable field crop, valued at over $10.8 billion. “Alfalfa continues to provide tremendous value to the nation’s farmers,” said Beth Nelson, President of the National Alfalfa & Forage Alliance (NAFA). “Not only is it the premier feed for dairy and beef cattle, but its value as a cash crop is undeniable. In terms of total protein per acre, there’s nothing better.”
Alfalfa is best known for its value and importance as a high-protein feed source in dairy and beef production systems, but few are aware of alfalfa’s many benefits in protecting the soil, providing wildlife habitat, and fixing biological nitrogen so farmers require less fertilizer on subsequent crops.
Alfalfa is key to sustainable agricultural systems and is an economic engine in rural communities. In terms of value, it is the nation’s third most valuable field crop following corn and soybean. It is also the ultimate regenerative crop, increasing biodiversity, enriching soils, improving watersheds, and enhancing ecosystems.
Alfalfa must offer a competitive value for farmers in order to provide these benefits and maintain and expand its acreage base. Yields of other major cropping choices have significantly surpassed alfalfa due, in part, to the vast amount of public research dedicated to these other crops. Being recognized in policy and public research funding decisions is critical in keeping pace with other cropping choices.
Alfalfa farmers in 42 states produced dry hay valued at $9.1 billion in 2019. In 17 of those states, farmers also produced alfalfa haylage, valued at an additional $1.7 billion, bringing total crop value to $10.8 billion, according to NASS.
For more alfalfa information visit https://www.midwestforage.org.
Hello, I am first time producer of alfalfa.
I seeded alfalfa, Timothy and mixed grass blend. My first cut was in September there was a lot of weeds. I know it’s not very profitable. But I was wondering is there anyway I can get rid of my harvested bales even for a cheap cost, who can I sell them to? Also what do farmers usually do with there first cut of of “weeds” lol I don’t want to put any animals at risk but I’d like to get at least some profit next to non.
Thanks so much.
As to your question below, as to how to market weedy hay. I guess it would somewhat depend on the weeds, hopefully the weeds are not thorny, noxious or have any toxins. If they are just run of the mill weeds, you might check with anyone that is raising goats. Goats tend to tolerate weeds better than most livestock.
Also you might check with your local extension agent to help you identify the weeds in your field to see if there are any herbicides that can help you eliminate some of the weeds in next year’s hay.
Hay for Goats
Goats will typically eat a wide variety of foods as they roam free in pastures. The only hay goats tend to steer away from is coarse grass hay as they are unable to chew it properly. Leafy alfalfa or fine grass hay is a great feed for goats. Don’t be afraid to feed them a weedy hay as well, as they are used to eating weeds as they roam free.