The U.S. House voted down a five-year, $500 billion farm bill June 20, just 10 days after the U.S. Senate approved its version of the legislation that would have cut farm subsidies while expanding crop insurance. Failure to pass the House bill sets the stage for a difficult fight in Congress if policymakers expect to have a new law by Sept. 30, when the current farm bill expires. The defeat comes a year after Congress failed to pass the 2012 Farm Bill by the Sept. 30 deadline, prompting a one-year extension of the 2008 Farm Bill. U.S. Canola Association Executive Director John Gordley gives his take on how Congressional leaders are likely to handle the fallout in an analysis entitled "What Happened to the Farm Bill?" on the USCA website.
The National Agricultural Statistics Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimated on June 28 that 1.3 million acres of canola will be planted nationwide in 2013, down from 1.77 million acres in 2012. This decline is largely due to a wet spring in North Dakota that prevented planting, dropping state canola acres from 1,460 last year to 860 this year. Meanwhile, the Great Plains, especially Oklahoma, and Pacific Northwest states are expected to have significant acreage increases of up to 50 percent. According to a June StatsCan report, Canadian canola growers reported 19.7 million seeded acres of canola, down 8.3 percent from 2012. This was the first decrease in national seeded acres since 2006. Saskatchewan was the largest contributor to the decline, with canola acreage falling 8 percent to 10.3 million acres. Seeding was also down in Alberta (-6.5 percent to 6.1 million acres) and Manitoba (-12.2 percent to 3.1 million acres) compared to last year.
Greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture climbed 1.6 percent each year from 2000 to 2010, according to a report released in June 2013 by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). By 2010, the sector’s annual output grew to 5 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (a measure used to compare emissions of various greenhouse gases) or 10 percent of all man-made emissions. The FAO’s 2013 “Statistical Yearbook” cites livestock and synthetic fertilizer as the largest contributors. The data also show that global crop production tripled over the past 50 years, primarily due to higher yields on existing farmland, dominated by cereals.
A comprehensive review of scientific evidence shows that consuming canola oil instead of other fat sources enhances health and can help consumers comply with expert dietary fat recommendations. Studies conducted over the past 25 years about the health effects of canola oil, analyzed in the June 2013 peer-reviewed journal Nutrition Reviews, confirm canola oil reduces the risk of heart disease and suggest that it may also protect against other chronic diseases. “Canola oil can now be regarded as one of the healthiest edible vegetable oils in terms of its biological functions and its ability to improve health and aid in reducing disease-related risk factors,” says lead researcher Peter Jones, Ph.D., of the University of Manitoba. The scientific literature review was equally funded by the U.S. Canola Association and Canola Council of Canada. Men who neglect their health are a challenge for dietitians, so it’s best to introduce strategies that emphasize both flavor and nutrition such as cooking with canola oil. That’s the advice from David Grotto, R.D., L.D.N., quoted in the June issue of Today’s Dietitian. “Men aren’t the best at health care,” says the Chicago-based dietitian and author of “The Best Things You Can Eat.” He encourages male clients to prepare healthier versions of unhealthful foods. An example? “Fry French fries in canola oil.”
Oil for Fuel
The USDA will disburse $98.6 million to support production of advanced biofuels. The payments, established as part of the 2008 Farm Bill, will be available to producers based on the amount of biofuel produced from renewable biomass. Eligible feedstocks include canola. “The United States is on the path to a cleaner, more secure energy future,” says Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “By helping producers to support and expand the production of advanced biofuels, USDA is ensuring that rural America is a key component of President Obama's 'all-of-the-above' energy strategy to reduce the nation's reliance on foreign oil.” The Advanced Biofuels Payment Program helps producers defray production costs and aims to nurture the fledgling industry.
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Oklahoma canola farmers had harvested about half of their 2013 crop as of June 21, according to the Oklahoma Farm Report. Gene Neuens of PCOM, in an interview with Radio Oklahoma Network, says producers south of I-40 are mostly finished, while farmers near Kingfisher, Enid and Bison are in full swing. Most of the crop in those areas has been swathed and now farmers are picking it up. Producers contended with drought, freeze damage and severe storms this growing season, but were able to salvage most of the crop, Neuens adds, with yields of 45-50 bushels per acre.
Canola-growing communities in North Dakota will be able to repair schools, improve playgrounds and better equip firefighters thanks to a June 2013 gift from Bayer CropScience's community awards program. Funded by Bayer's InVigor® canola hybrids, the donations total $30,000 and will go to 10 non-profit organizations across the state. Over its four-year history, the program has awarded more than $117,000 to local groups nominated by canola farmers.
Oregon Legislature's Ways and Means Committee approved a bill banning all but 500 acres of canola production in the Willamette Valley until 2019, reports Capital Press. The June 21 ruling was preceded by a lengthy debate where lawmakers questioned whether it was appropriate for the legislature to regulate crop production. In earlier testimony, would-be canola growers in the valley argued canola is a valuable rotation crop that can be produced in a way that doesn't threaten the specialty seed industry. If passed into law, the policy would override the Oregon Department of Agriculture's February 2013 ruling that permitted up to 2,500 acres of canola production in the region.
About Canola Worldwide
Chinese demand for Canadian canola meal is expected to grow following a report that shows an increase in milk production when cows consume the meal, reports The Wall Street Journal. Canadian canola meal increases milk production by more than half a liter per cow per day, according to the joint Chinese-Canadian study released June 14 by the Canola Council of Canada. “Our research shows use of canola is not only effective; it is economical for Chinese dairy farmers as well,” says Dr. Wang Ruojun of China Agricultural University. During the 2012 calendar year, Canada sold US$2.96 billion in canola seed, oil and meal to China, representing more than 50 percent of the country’s agri-food exports to China.