Use of crops developed using biotechnology is a key to farmers’ stewardship of the land, said Joanna Lidback, a dairy producer from northeast Vermont, at a hearing of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.

Lidback and her husband, first generation farmers with a 50 cow dairy operation and 200 acres of land, view the use of modern technology and innovation as essential to the environmental and economic sustainability of their operation. She provided an example from her own farm.

“Biotech crops are essential to keeping our feed prices affordable. To compare, a non-GMO basic feed would cost us $555 per ton; the similar conventional feed we currently purchase is $305 per ton,” she testified. “We purchase 16 tons of grain per month and if you do the math, we’d be paying an additional $4,000 a month or $48,000 a year for non-GMO feed. I don’t see how we could profitably farm with those increased costs; I’m certain our small farm would be pushed out of business.”

Lidback testified on behalf of Agri-Mark Dairy Cooperative and the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives. Lidback keeps a blog documenting her family’s life on the farm (farmlifelove.com).

She also shared her perspective on the Vermont law set to come into effect next year mandating labeling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients.

“In my opinion, the new label wouldn’t better inform consumers but instead serve as a warning sign,” Lidback testified. “If a small percent of consumers are to drive a GMO labeling requirement I believe it should be done in a voluntary and cohesive way at the federal level. Again, I don’t believe those consumers who can least afford it should have to bear the burden for such a small percentage of consumers who are pushing mandatory labeling.”