Capitol Hill

Agronomy

Nutrition

Oil for Fuel

Latest Industry News

About the USCA

 






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Canola Quick Bytes

A supplement to U.S. Canola Digest


Capitol Hill

As expected, the one-year extension of the 2008 Farm Bill expired Sept. 30 without Congress reconciling the two competing bills passed by the House and Senate earlier this year. The House did pass a rule by a 226-191 vote Sept. 28 to combine the House farm and nutrition bills, paving the way for lawmakers to name House and Senate conferees to resolve the legislation. First, however, Congress will immediately need to address the current self-inflicted crisis over its inability to pass a Continuing Resolution to fund government operations past Sept. 30. With temporary funding in place, lawmakers can then tackle the larger issue of increasing the national debt limit in mid-October or allow the nation to default on its debt, risking a world-wide fiscal calamity. Debate on the Farm Bill will be further postponed. As of Oct. 1, most of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) was closed due to the government shutdown. The USDA's website went offline, rerouting users to an Office of Management and Budget website with links about the shutdown contingency plans, including the USDA's various agencies such as the Risk Management Agency.

According to an internal audit released this September, the USDA crop insurance program that reimburses farmers for "prevented planting" creates disincentives for them to raise crops. The program has provided coverage of more than $480 million in "potentially excessive prevented planting payments," the audit states. The USDA's Risk Management Agency (RMA) has agreed to consult with USDA attorneys to determine if it will be lawful to reduce the historic yields of farmers who claim prevented planting. The RMA said it will determine if coverage levels are excessive by June 2014, allowing for potential policy changes for the 2015 crop year.

The USDA approved three new biotechnology innovations Sept. 25, including Monsanto's glyphosate resistant canola, male-sterile corn and Genective's glyphosate resistant corn. This final decision follows a preliminary deregulation in July by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). As a result, the agency will no longer monitor the field testing or movement of the plants. Agriculature Secretary Tom Vilsack says APHIS's new accelerated deregulation process aims to complete approval of genetically engineered plants in 1.3 years on average.


Agronomy

In August, Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber signed a law banning the commercial production of canola in the Willamette Valley until 2019. The region spans 3 million acres. Local vegetable growers and specialty seed growers have been concerned canola would cross-pollinate with broccoli, kale, cabbage and other brassica crops. They also expressed worry that canola crops would introduce diseases and pests into the area's seed plots. Would-be canola farmers in the region maintain that the crop will not do either due to restrictions on how close canola can be planted to these crops and proper field management. They also argue there is no greater risk of outcrossing or volunteers with canola than with any other crop and that canola would provide a much-needed rotational crop for grass seed and wheat farmers The law funds research by Oregon State University to determine if canola should be regulated differently than other brassica.

The Southwest Farm Press reported Southern Great Plains farmers will plant record-breaking canola acreage this fall. About 400,000 to 500,000 acres are expected in Kansas Oklahoma and North Texas, compared to about 300,000 acres planted in 2012. "There will be more winter canola planted in this region than any other time in the crop's short history," says Gene Neuens, Producers Cooperative Oil Mill oilseed field representative. "And we know many farmers are planting canola for the first time this year. Both of these developments, along with seed companies reporting dwindling seed supplies, make us believe this will be a bumper year for canola planted [acreage]."


Nutrition

Remember the "Snackwell's Diet" of the late 1980s? Nabisco's line of fatless cookies inspired other food companies to stretch the trend to ice cream, cakes and snacks. By the mid-‘90s, more than 25 percent of new products introduced in supermarkets were low-fat or fat-free. Registered Dietician and food industry consultant Annette Maggi remembers this craze in the Aug. 27 Huffington Post. Although the Snackwell's fad passed, misconceptions about fat remain today. "The call to action for those involved in health education is to help consumers understand that not all fat is bad and that there are many good fats in the supermarket, at restaurants and even in the home kitchen," she writes. She recommends consuming canola oil due to its healthy monounsaturated fat content.

According to the American Heart Association, one person dies every 39 seconds from heart disease in the U.S., making it the leading cause of death among Americans. In addition to adequate exercise, making better food choices is essential for heart health. EatingWell recommends limiting saturated fat to 5 percent or less of your total calories. Replacing butter with vegetable-based oils such as canola oil reduces saturated fat and provides heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. The article also suggests limiting salt, sugar and trans fat intake. 

Craving a delicious restaurant meal, but committed to cutting out unhealthy saturated and trans fats? The American Heart Association recently published several tips to help cut down on bad fats without sacrificing taste. Among the recommendations: ask your server what type of oil foods are prepared with and opt for dishes made with liquid vegetable oils, such as canola oil. The association also advises sharing large portions with friends; ordering meals that are steamed, broiled, baked, grilled or roasted; and substituting sides like French fries with healthier options such as a baked potato or side salad.


Oil for Fuel

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the USDA is making $15.5 million in payments to 188 producers through the Advanced Biofuel Payment Program. "Producing advanced biofuels is a major component of the drive to take control of America's energy future by developing domestic, renewable energy sources," said USDA Rural Development Acting Under Secretary Doug O'Brien. "These payments represent the Obama administration's commitment to support an 'all-of-the-above' energy strategy." Funding of this program, which includes making biodiesel from canola oil, was established in the 2008 Farm Bill.

BioExx and Burcon NutraScience have yet to find partners to invest in manufacturing canola protein for human consumption on an industrial scale. FoodNavigator-USA.com reported Burcon has "potential but has been prioritizing pea and soy protein." BioExx has developed a patented process to boost the solubility, functionality, flavor and odor of canola proteins, but the departures of its CEO and chair have put several projects on hold.


Latest Industry News

Baldur R. Stefansson, known as the "father of canola," was honored posthumously at University of Manitoba's new Innovation Plaza Aug. 22. The university held a ceremony to unveil a bronze bust of the late Stefansson. "Canola is such an important part of the agricultural economy here in the province and agriculture is such an important part in ... our future economic prospects," said University of Manitoba President David Barnard at the ceremony. "Stefansson's contribution to that is outstanding." The crop, invented by Stefansson and Dr. Keith Downey in 1974, has contributed more than $15 billion to Canada's economy.


About the USCA

The U.S. Canola Association 2013 fall board of directors meeting will be in Oklahoma City, Okla., Nov. 11-13 at the Colcord Hotel. Growers are invited to attend sessions on Nov. 12. For more information, contact Dale Thorenson at dale@uscanola.com.

 

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