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November 26, 2012

Stewardship and Neighborly Cooperation Can Avoid Problems

For more information on Newsline, contact: Kari Barbic, Media Specialist, American Farm Bureau Federation, karib@fb.org.

The Department of Agriculture has asked farmers of varying sizes and types of crops to help promote coexistence in agriculture. Barry Bushue, American Farm Bureau Federation vice president and a member of the committee, talks about their work in this report from AFBF’s Johnna Miller.
Miller:Last year the Secretary of Agriculture formed an Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture, known as AC21. The primary purpose of the panel was to suggest ways to enhance the working relationships among farmers growing different types of crops, specifically biotech and non-biotech varieties…in other words, coexistence. 
Bushue:I’m not of the mindset that says that there’s a war in the countryside between the folks that raise genetically modified crops and those that don’t. I’ve seen too many good neighbors working together that don’t create problems for each other. But if there’s a hint of it out there then our recommendations are asking USDA to be more forthright and more assertive in its educational programs so that people can go to places like USDA and say, if I’m going to plant this particular crop what are the challenges to me? What are the challenges to my neighbor? What things do I need to know? What things do I need to understand about the potential for impacting my neighbor so that I have the tools to go sit down and talk with my neighbor and figure it out so that both of us can continue to operate the way we need to operate on our own farms. 
Miller:American Farm Bureau Federation vice president and member of the AC21 committee Barry Bushue said he was surprised to learn that, as of their first meeting, USDA had no records or data of economic losses due to the unintended presence of biotechnology in a non-biotech crop and the panel found no evidence of losses in a year of research. 
Bushue:Maybe there are folks who would like it to be more controversial than it is, but it truly isn’t. Farmers have been working side by side, neighbor to neighbor for generations, but the iteration of this committee was its ability to look at how we do that, where the issues are, how we can enhance our abilities to work together.
Miller:Bushue says consumers can be reassured that USDA is trying to nip any potential problems in the bud.
Bushue:I think it ought to give the consumer great comfort that there’s a large group of folks that have their interests at heart and have gotten together and had these very frank, open and transparent discussions, that the USDA and agriculture itself is concerned about their choice, about their safety and about their availability of food.
Miller:Johnna Miller, Washington.
Miller:We have two extra actualities with AFBF Vice President and AC21 member Barry Bushue. In the first extra actuality he talks about the importance of coexistence in agriculture. The cut runs 10 seconds, in 3-2-1.
Bushue:These aren’t food safety issues. They’re not health issues. They’re more about opportunities to establish a market and a practice on your farm which would work best for you and the consumers that you deal with.
Miller:In the second extra actuality he explains the concept of coexistence. The cut runs 28 seconds, in 3-2-1.
Bushue:The concept of coexistence is the ability of farmers to select the kind of crops they want to raise within the market that suits them best and the overlap there with thoughts of pollen drift and buffers and the types of things that exist between one farm and another, so that they can work collaboratively so both farming operations have the ability to grow the kind of crops that they want to raise. We can coexist with each other despite growing different types of crops for different types of markets.
Miller:Newsline is updated Mondays and Thursdays by 5pm Eastern time. Thank you for listening.

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