One Grass-Fed Dairy Farmer’s Answer to GE Alfalfa

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist December 28, 2012

Earlier this year, the USDA suddenly and without warning lifted all restrictions on the planting of genetically engineered (GE) alfalfa, also known as Roundup Ready Alfalfa.

This surprise move occurred shortly after release of the USDA’s Final Environmental Impact Statement on GE Alfalfa in which it admitted that this frankencrop may indeed pose a risk not only to organic farmers but to conventional farmers as well.

Unrestricted planting of GE alfalfa is a potentially devastating blow to grassbased dairy farms across North America.  Alfalfa is considered the “queen forage” for dairy farms that are organic or grass-fed as it has the highest protein and calcium for lactating cows.

Bees and wind have the potential to cross pollinate GE alfalfa with natural alfalfa and, over time, destroy the grass-fed dairy industry.                              

While GE alfalfa is indeed a serious threat to grassbased dairy, one farmer in Texas is not sitting on his hands waiting for disaster to strike.

Aquaponic Sprouting System to Combat the Scourge of GE Alfalfa

Kelvin Edwards of Pure Milk Farm in Winnie, Texas decided to think outside the box and plan construction of an aquaponic sprouting system and greenhouse to produce quality forage for his herd of jerseys, replacing his dependence on alfalfa hay.

This “grow vertical” solution is designed to cultivate organic grass and legume for livestock year round even during the winter without the use of  any chemical fertilizers.

This project will be the first of its kind in the United States and will have the capacity to produce 1000 lbs of organic grass and sprouts per day.  Not only will the system allow Pure Milk Farm to harvest grasses at their nutritional peak for the dairy cows, but it will also use 98% less water and land than conventional farming and will protect the farm from the ravages of GE crops.

Of course, the jersey cows will still graze on the beautiful, unsprayed pastures of Pure Milk Farm. The aquaponic system will simply provide supplemental forage – wheat grass juice for cows, if you will – which they are currently receiving as alfalfa hay.

The sprouted wheat and barley grasses will also provide supplemental food for the pastured chickens on the farm.

Take that Monsanto!

Can you help?

Pure Milk Farms is trying to raise the $20,000 necessary to build the aquaponics system plus greenhouse by January 3, 2013.

So far, Kelvin has raised $6,000 via the fundraising tool Kickstarter.

Are you able to help them reach their goal of $20,000?  Can you share the information about this project with others you know who might also be able to help?

This is the type of innovative project that needs to succeed so other grassbased farms can follow Pure Milk Farm’s lead in the coming years as GE alfalfa cross pollination gradually reduces the affordable supply of clean alfalfa hay.

Real Food Gift for Your Donation

Pure Milk Farm is offering gifts as a thank you to those who are able to pledge and help them bring this exciting project to fruition.  Pledges of $10 will receive a bar of handmade soap from an independent day school whose students drink raw milk.

For a pledge of $20, Pure Milk Farms would like to send you a sample of their “Anything Yogurt Dressings”.  These dressings contain all natural and organic ingredients with no preservatives, nothing artificial, and always soy free, gluten free and of course, NO GMO’s.  

  • Texas Ranch dressing: Yogurt, whey, organic dill, organic parsley, lemon juice, sea salt, celery seed, garlic salt.
  • Southwest Chipotle dressing/dip:  Yogurt, whey adobe sauce, chipotle peppers, lime, cumin, chili powder, natural spices, sea salt.
  • Honey mustard dressing:  Yogurt, whey, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, raw honey.
  • Creamy kefir dressing: Kefir(made with kefir grains), whey, dill, garlic powder, white pepper, lemon juice, pinch of sea salt.
  • Greek Yogurt dressing: Yogurt, whey, olive oil, stevia, rice vinegar, oregano, garlic, white pepper, lemon juice.
Larger pledges will receive a combination of gifts.  To see all the pledge levels, click here.
If you are not able to help financially, please share Pure Milk Farm’s quest to beat Monsanto at its own game with those you know to spread word about this groundbreaking project!

 

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

Sources: USDA Deregulates GE Alfalfa

Organic Sprouting System for Livestock Feed

Picture Credit

 

Comments (54)

  1. The farm where I have my cow share just began using something similar, mostly because of this past years drought, and the fact that they weren’t able to harvest the amount or quality of hay that they normally would. It’s exciting!

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  2. Would recommend doing some homework before making a contribution to any Kickstarter project. At the very least, do some googling about the business/farm/individual. Then make an informed decision….this would also make more sense to me if I lived in Texas I think!

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  3. Those employing fodder systems take note. Monsanto and their cohorts have over the last decade quietly bought out many many seed companies – Stokes is one. This is a very insidious operation – really research where you are getting seed of any kind. Visit http://www.groworganic.com as a start. I made my own fodder systems for goats, ducks and chickens – this isn’t brain surgery – look at the pictures and get the brain a-thinkin :} You can use regular misting systems, aquarium pumps, instead of PVC which most times isn’t foodgrade and is going to leach deadly chemicals into your fodder, use aluminum pieces that are used in downspout systems to direct water away from your roof overhang. Read books on, or join online groups that use hydroponics – get a feel for it – there is absolutely no reason you have to pay thousands of dollars for these systems. Start small, as you gain wisdom on how the systems work, add more. But back to groworganics website. They have a hundred different kinds of forage. You are not limited to alfalfa – most any seed can be sprouted. I use their chicken forage, or goat forage mixes – it has about 6 different kinds of seeds and sprouts beautifully. Look to the future to grow your own seed.

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  4. im planning to move to texas and start a small farm im learning everything i can before i start you guys have really brought the light in all what is going on!!! thank you sarah you got our back!!!!

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  5. This is admirable. However, this is just feeding into the cause and effect syndrome. You do something destructive, I react. Do you see where feeding into this activity is not a solution? The only permanent changes come from God. If people don’t start asking for Divine Intervention in these kinds of situations it is just perpetuating the domino effect. I am a veganic farmer – I do not use any kind of animal, poultry or fish products in the production of produce or vegetables. At some point in time we have to start moving forward, money solutions are not the solution – when will mankind realize this? Money is a tool to be used for temporary solutions while you call forth Light into a situation, mankind will never generate permanent solutions of any kind – it is illusion to think so – only God has permanent solutions. Do people also not see that mankind’s ideas on the whole are just a spin off of an old idea that did not work – for new, creative ideas, again God.

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  6. Sarah, I raise sprouted grass for my my dairy, beef and chickens here in FL. I have a climate controlled room that mists and grows beautiful grass for my small family farm. Here’s the problem that I see. I’m still quite dependant on seed suppliers. I buy from Countryside Organics feed. Unless we’re able to grow our own seed as well in a controlled environment aren’t we dealing wit the same issues? ~Mary

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    • Also, My father just completed a room that generates 1,600 lbs daily of this grass a day for his beef cattle. A dry roughage is still needed to off set to much green/nitrogen in the the cows gut. ~Mary

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  7. A link to a midwest farmer (Iowa) who is farming “the old way” and not using modern methods, lots of chemicals, etc. It can be done, perhaps showing this around more can put a tickle in the back of peoples minds at least? I have never had to use and chemicals on my plants but I also do not do crops to feed my animals since it is easier for me to buy from a farmer I trust and support.

    http://www.startribune.com/local/185120861.html?refer=y

    Anyway, the article was in todays StarTribune out of Minneapolis. The title if it doesn’t show up is: In Harnessing Land, Iowa Farmer Preserves It

    Tracy

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  8. If the farmers harvest the alfalfa when it should be harvested, cross pollination is not going to happen. Ideal time to harvest is in late vegetative state which is before the flower opens up. So one part can be solved by harvesting on time. Until the field needs to be planted again, in my area (Minnesota), that is about every 5 years.

    That does not always happen tho–machinery breaks down, rain/mud/etc., lack of labor, etc.

    At ideal harvest the plant has the most nutrients in it and does the animal the best.

    The problem is going to be in getting the seed for future crops. That can be tested like corn and other crops to determine if the seed is contaminated or not. Alfalfa seed does not always germinate at the same time and can stay in the field not germinated for I think up to two years (may have to check those numbers).

    There are other types of hay that can be used instead of alfalfa. Alfalfa is my favorite because it does so much good for my milk and growing animals. But I have been able to use a good grass hay before with decent results. Production not quite as high but still up there.

    Also, there is no need in most cases for this type of GMO. IF the farmer plants the alfalfa when it should be planted in the spring, there really is no problem with competing plants because the alfalfa can come up faster and choke out anything trying to grow with it. I can honestly say I have never seen a hay field around me sprayed for any reason. Lime added about every 5 years and replanting at the same time, but I have not seen herbicide sprayed on a properly planted field. That could be just this area and the work load of the local farmers–when we had more small farmers.

    How my hay farmer put it, “the GMO alfalfa was created for the lazy farmer and the large corporate farms that can’t get the job done when and how it should be done.”

    Tracy

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  9. My raw dairy source in Colorado is also doing the hydroponic feed source due to the drought and not wanting to buy feed from Canada. I don’t think it’s fair – your getting donations for this farmer when there’s others out there needing funding help too. My dairy, Eberts, says there’s not many out there and it’s a new learning for the few who will eventually help others get started too.
    Karey Swan\’s last post: Genealogy of Jesus and Women

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    • I agree completely. This is not “the first of its kind”. There are several and they could all use the support. It is not an inexpensive venture to start a new system on your farm.

      I have just one cow here now, but I also sprout wheat and barley for my cow. She loves it and it has increased her milk production. I believe it is a wonderful feed. I built my own sprouter that suits my needs for now, but I will eventually need to invest in a bigger one (I also feed sprouts to my meat rabbits and layer chickens) as my farm grows.

      Thank you for bringing this to light for people who are unfamiliar with feeding fodder, but please don’t just single one farm out of many who are on the right track to support financially.

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  10. Thank you so much, Sarah, for letting everybody know about this wonderful project. I purchase all of my dairy from Pure Milk Farms and it is all absolutely delicious. Kelvin and his family are so nice. It’s a pretty long drive from my home in Louisiana to their farm in Texas. One day on my way to the farm I got stuck in traffic for several hours and didn’t get there until 11:00 at night! He and his wife both came from their house to their little farm store to help me. They were so friendly and so understanding. I hope everyone who can donate does. It’s such a great project.

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  11. I like this idea very much but I’m wondering how Pure Milk Farms will obtain a large supply of pure, non-GMO seeds to sprout in the long run? Someone will have to grow these seeds in an open field most likely so cross-contamination is going to be a real problem eventually.

    Ultimately, we are going to have to win this fight at the consumer level. Only then will “we the people” be successful in state initiatives that require honest labeling. “We the people” will then also be in the place to bring our federal government back to a sound Constitutional footing (including where the selling of raw milk and other health products are not banned).
    Mike Allen\’s last post: Antarctic Sea Ice Sets Growth Record

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  12. I am so excited for this family. How inspiring! We too moved from the city 5 years ago to raise a small herd of dairy goats, chickens and bees. We just donated!

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  13. I wonder how soon farmers will realize that the GMO alfalfa is making cattle sick??? I don’t understand how they can go forging ahead with all the bad news about GMO corn and soy!

    This farm isn’t the only one going to a sprouting system. Our farmer is installing the FodderTech system http://www.foddertech.com/. In fact after various difficulties, and with the building set to go, the system was delivered on Christmas Day! So they are busy getting the system up and running. The company has been swamped with orders. My question is where are you getting the seeds to sprout. Our farmer has a source of supply lined up. The price and availability of hay these days is a major problem.

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  14. I remember hearing in the great depression, farmers used to feed their dairy cows green willow shoots. They used to cut them and dry them like hay as winter feed. Perhaps stands of willows could be the antitode to GE alfalfa?

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  15. The FDA/USDA/etc. are all now incorporated profit making businesses that are in partnership with mega-agri corporations such as Monsanto. USDA scientists are allowed up to $100,000 a year in extra money from profits made on patents, etc. held by the USDA. This is why these alphabet agencies no longer listen to We the People…we aren’t their boss anymore. They have become their own shadow government ruling with the effect of law through regulations, rules, fines, confiscation of property and even prison time. The only way to stop them now is to demand that our legislators defund them…while we still can. Shut them DOWN….

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    • you hit the nail on the head. we got to keep on our reps., senators, they sell us out, WE VOTE THEM OUT, and get people that are ” FOR THE PEOPLE”, God bless America

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  16. Well, I guess it could work in Texas, here in Ohio, not so sure. I also doubt other farmers could raise the $ needed for an experimental way to feed your cows. Also, will the cows eat it ? I don’t know! A lot of questions before I’d jump on that bandwagon.

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  17. Unfortunately this is just a short term fix because the alfalfa seed crop could/probably will eventually be corrupted with GM pollen. Our government is so corrupt it makes me ill when I think about it.

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  18. Oh! Makes me proud to be an American and a Texan! Way to go! NEVER GIVE UP! I will be sending a donation! God bless Pure Milk Farms!

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  19. Thank you Sarah for letting others know about Pure Milk Farm’s Kickstarter project. We’ve been buying raw milk, raw cream, and other products from Kelvin for many years. We’ve visited his farm and met his family. He is conscientious and dedicated to producing quality non-GMO raw milk. We’ve donated to the project. I hope it can be a model for other farmers faced with the spread of GMO alfalfa.

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    • Wouldn’t it be cool if there was an anti-Roundup? A chemical that kills GMOs and doesn’t harm anything else around it?

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      • That is what prayer is for :}. Use liberal amounts. “Where two or more shall ask in my name, it shall be given”. Most people don’t understand prayer – you don’t just ask once and then go your way. You keep asking till it is lowered into manifestation.

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  20. Even as we post here there are those that still cry out for ‘ less regulations ‘ on big business.

    Pandora? Meet the box. Box? Meet Pandora.

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