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Stewardship,

neighbor-to-neighbor farming urged

Dec. 6, 2012 | 0 comments

The American Farm Bureau Federation is pleased with the outcome of a year-long discussion of the Agriculture Department's Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture on ways to promote coexistence in agriculture.

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.

In 2011, Vilsack tasked the AC21 with providing recommendations for strengthening coexistence among various agricultural production methods.

American Farm Bureau Federation Vice President Barry Bushue, a member of the AC21, said the report's recommendations could benefit all of agriculture.

The AC21 report highlights the importance of diversity in U.S. agriculture and the history of successful coexistence in identity-preserved markets, whereby production practices maintain each crop's integrity and purity.

"Finding ways to work together to serve specialty, high-value markets is one of the greatest strengths of the U.S. agriculture industry," said Bushue.

"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," continued Bushue, noting 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.

"I'm pleased our committee carefully weighed the evidence, listened to the needs of growers and choose to emphasize improved stewardship and neighbor-to-neighbor coexistence," said Bushue.

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