After almost a year of work by stakeholders along the alfalfa hay production chain in Eastern Canada, a Coexistence Plan for Alfalfa Hay has been developed to as a proactive measure to help prepare farmers should a decision be made to commercialize genetically modified (GM) alfalfa for hay production in Eastern Canada.

A key outcome of this plan is the establishment of a set of suggestions for best management practices to allow all alfalfa hay production systems to be successful.

While the process was facilitated by the Canadian Seed Trade Association (CSTA), the fundamentals of the Coexistence Plan were developed by a value chain group which included academics, forage specialists, alfalfa producers, and their customers.

The group reviewed and researched alfalfa hay production systems and the biology of alfalfa in Canada and the result is a comprehensive, science based document which includes suggested best management practices (BMPs) for farmers. The BMPs are simple and practical and were developed based on a thorough assessment of alfalfa production and biology in Eastern Canada.

Based on several key principles that can help all alfalfa hay production systems to be successful, The Coexistence Plan gives producers the choice to pursue many opportunities in diverse domestic and international markets.

The Coexistence Plan does not advocate for or against the commercialization of GM alfalfa. Nor does it favor one production system over the other.

The plan strives to anticipate the future and identify practical and clear practises that can help all hay production systems to be successful in Eastern Canada. This will require good communication and mutual respect between neighbours who choose different production approaches, whether it be organic, conventional or through biotechnology.

The Coexistence, including the Best Management Practises Checklist, along with reports from the development process, can be found on the CSTA website at http://cdnseed.org/facilitating-choice-through-coexistence/