Volume 2 Issue 4

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Page 8 | Abby's Magazine - When Troy Knoblock, a farmer who operates a hog nursery in Rock Rapids, Iowa, switched from feeding his animals GM feed to non-GMO feed several years ago he didn't think there would be a difference. In fact, he says: "We laughed about it." But he did see differences in the health of his sows and young hogs. Knoblock, who keeps extensive records of his operation, found that drug treatments for sicknesses were cut in half. Sow conception rates increased from percentages in the 80s to 90s, and the size of hog litters increased. The switch to non-GMO feed "has made my operation a lot more enjoyable," Knoblock says. Over the past few years, Knoblock has also gradually increased plantings of non-GMO crops; this year all his corn and 75% of his soybeans will be non-GMO. "We have been very happy with yields of everything," he says. Jon Blomgren, who works with Knoblock, agrees. "Switching to non-GMO lowered our input costs. The seed is much cheaper, about $150-$160 per bag, while GM seed can cost $300 per bag." Knoblock thinks more farmers will switch to non-GMO production. "There is interest out there, and it's catching on a lot," he says. Knoblock is one of an increasing number of farmers reporting better animal health with non-GMO feed. Steve Tusa, who raises beef cattle in Alpha, Minnesota, has seen improvements in his herd with the use of non- GMO feed. Cattle deaths due to digestive problems or pneumonia have been cut in half from 1.2% of his herd to 0.6%. Tusa grows 1400 acres of non-GMO corn, most of which he uses for feed. "The yields are good as or better than my neighbor's traited (GM) corn," Tusa says. Farmers afraid to speak about non-GMO Tusa say that many farmers are afraid to talk about their non-GMO production. "There are more people out here doing it, but no one wants to talk about it," he says. Knoblock says that an atmosphere of fear has been created that discourages farmers from growing non-GMO. "It's such a scare tactic," he says. "Many farmers are afraid to try it." In fact, two farmers described improvements in livestock health with non-GMO feed but did not want their names revealed. A Wisconsin farmer who raises young cows for dairy operations has seen overall better health and weight gain in his herd from non-GMO feed. "We haven't done a scientific study; it's just something we've seen with our own eyes," the farmer says. Similar to Knoblock and Tusa, the Wisconsin farmer has gotten good yields from non-GMO corn. "We haven't lost yield; in fact yields have increased," the farmer says. A farmer based in South Dakota, who also asked to remain anonymous, reports greater efficiency with non-GMO feed; his livestock don't have to eat as much. "When we switched to non-GMO, we saw a 5% reduction in feed use. Animals only eat as much as they need," the farmer says. He also says his livestock seem more content. The farmer had previously grown Roundup Ready crops. "We thought Roundup Ready was the saving grace but now it isn't working; weeds are resistant and it ties up nutrients in the soil," the farmer says. Switching to organic feed could produce even better results, says Jordan Simone Tate, CEO and founder of Nature's Way Feed, Inc. "I've noticed a decline in mastitis issues from some of my clients' cattle and goat herds, an increase in milk production as well as quality of milk. There is also better quality of eggs and poultry meat," he says. Improvement in herd health and performance Agriculture advisors have also seen better results GMO Update Farmers Report Improved Animal Health with Non-GMO Feed By Ken Roseboro

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