Blaine Schmaltz’s Roundup Ready Alfalfa Woes

Blaine Schmaltz mugBlaine Schmaltz, a Rugby, N.D., organic seed producer, a named co-plaintiff in the case against Roundup Ready alfalfa, says he is pleased by a San Francisco federal judge’s preliminary injunction that will temporarily block the sale of the product for 2007.

Schmaltz says he sent a written statement in a week ago, describing how the production of Roundup Ready alfalfa in 2006 affected his business and livelihood. He says six producers in his area were growing it. “I thought there were none,” he says. He thought that prices of $4 to $6 per pound for seed, including technical fees, would have prevented its use, considering the typical price is $1.50 to $3 per pound.

“I posed the question to friend who I knew were buying it,” Schmaltz says. “They were under the understanding that it would clean up weed problems they’d have with establishing stands, but without any thought about who they were going to affectd, or how it would affect them in the future.”

Schmaltz says that the shrinking of the labor pool in rural areas tends to influence producers to use more technology. But one of the effects of the introduction of the technology has meant that Schmaltz had to abandon his market for food grade sprouting seed in Korea. He says he also sells alfalfa seed to organic farmers, a market he’s abandoned except for providing 2005 inventory, before the introduction. He’s also abandoned some “delicate” foreign markets that would have required testing which runs to the $160 to $180 per lot, per field.

Stay tuned. Schmaltz says his family farm will need to adapt to the change, but he isn’t sure how.