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USDA Releases Coexistence Report

Committee report focuses on improving neighbor-to-neighbor farming; biotechnology coexistence

Published on: Nov 21, 2012

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture on Monday released a final set of recommendations on enhancing coexistence among different crop production methods.

The AC21 presented its report to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to be used as guidance to enhance working relationships among farmers growing different types of crops, specifically biotech and non-biotech crops. The committee also made recommendations to the USDA emphasizing education, stewardship and good neighbor-to-neighbor communications.

The National Corn Growers Association on Tuesday commended the AC 21 committee members for developing tools that will help balance risks and rewards for all farmers.

Committee report focuses on improving neighbor-to-neighbor farming; biotechnology coexistence
Committee report focuses on improving neighbor-to-neighbor farming; biotechnology coexistence

"During meetings, the conversations I had with other growers were the most helpful," AC 21 committee member and NCGA Past President Darrin Ihnen says. "Farmers have one thing in common. We all want to choose what is right for our farms. We agree that the best situation is when good stewardship and neighbor-to-neighbor communications lead to effective coexistence on the local level."

The report says that technological innovations and market diversity have become key drivers of increased productivity and product quality for all forms of American agriculture. In 2012, biotech acres made up 88% of all corn planted in the United States.

"All of agriculture must work together to meet the needs of customers around the world," Ihnen says.  "That is a big challenge and in this case, we showed that there is a role for all farmers, no matter what type of seeds they plant."

The American Farm Bureau Federation also said Tuesday it is pleased with the outcome of the AC21 report. American Farm Bureau Federation Vice President Barry Bushue, a member of the AC21, said the report's recommendations could benefit all of agriculture.

"Finding ways to work together to serve specialty, high-value markets is one of the greatest strengths of the U.S. agriculture industry," Bushue says. "As American farmers continue to innovate, I am optimistic that our recommendations can help identify coexistence practices where they are working, improve stewardship where needed and mitigate much of the underlying concerns about the real and perceived risks related to coexistence."

Bushue notes that the committee's report emphasizes proactive grower outreach and education. The AC21 also explored the idea of compensation to address economic losses by farmers whose crop value may be reduced by the unintended presence of biotechnology but determined that a compensation mechanism isn't necessary or justified at this time.

Click here to read the full report.