National Corn Growers Association members Martin Barbre and Jimmy Wedel promoted communication as the best method to ensure coexistence among farmers at a conference in Albuquerque, N.M., last week.

The conference featured agricultural interests in the Southwest, farmers and academia. New Mexico Secretary of Agriculture Dr. Miley Gonzalez and Kansas Secretary of Agriculture Adrian Polansky -- the chairs of The National Association of State Directors of Agriculture -- also attended. Barbre and Wedel were on a panel with growers from New Mexico and California.

"The panel discussed the present issues in coexistence, such as pollen and herbicide drift, and how farmers are dealing with them," said Barbre, chairman of NCGA's Biotechnology Working Group. "There are different thoughts on what the best methods are, but one that certainly works is communication among growers."

The meeting was a follow-up from a conference in February in St. Louis on coexistence. The secretaries of agriculture were on hand to consider making the coexistence conference a nationwide event.

"This is a really good conference that brings together organic and biotech farmers to talk about coexistence issues," said Wedel, a member of NCGA's Ethanol Committee. "Both groups of farmers have a stake in ensuring their crops are grown for their particular markets, and communication among neighboring farmers makes that happen."

Barbre said NCGA's Farmer to Farmer initiative is helping growers and consumers learn more about coexistence.

"Growers are more aware of the coexistence issues involved and understand the pros and cons of what they do and how other farmers' crops could be affected," he said. "Farmers have to work in concert with each other and honor each other's wishes when it comes to marketing certain crops. Farmer to Farmer promotes how growers communicate with each other to ensure cooperation."

More information on Farmer to Farmer is online.

SOURCE: NCGA news release.