The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced farm owners may now update their yield history and/or reallocate base acres – the first step before producers choose between the new Agriculture Risk Coverage or Price Loss Coverage programs authorized in the Agriculture Act of 2014. New online tools allow farmers to enter their information and project the benefits of each program. According to the USDA, producers will have until early spring 2015 to select which program works best for them.
The U.S. Canola Association (USCA) joined a wide range of farm, manufacturing and energy groups in signing letters of support for legislation (S. 2777) that would reauthorize and reform the Surface Transportation Board (STB), which oversees the freight rail industry. The bill, introduced last month by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Sen. John Thune (R-SD), proposes changes to the STB operations such as increasing its investigative authority; improving rate review timelines and alternative dispute resolution practices; and establishing a binding arbitration process to resolve complaints. Such changes would improve U.S. transportation of canola and other crops.
Members of the U.S. Biotech Crops Alliance, including the USCA, urged the European Commission to promptly authorize new biotech products for import and processing in the European Union. The Commission has not authorized any since 2013. “Timely action now by the Commission to provide final authorization will ensure that there is no risk of disruption to the essential supply of feedstocks needed by the EU’s livestock and feed industries,” the group said in its letter.
An outbreak of blackleg in Oregon’s Willamette Valley caused dispute between Oregon State University canola researchers and specialty seed growers, according to Capital Press. The experimental plot of canola was planted around the same time as the blackleg infestation, causing growers to blame the university for bringing “added disease, weed and pest pressure to the turnip, broccoli, cabbage, kale, radish and other crops they grow for seed.” The university maintains that the disease was airborne from previously infected fields.
A New Mexico State University research project is showing the benefits of planting winter canola in the region. According to a crop stress physiologist, canola is well-adapted for the cold temperatures in New Mexico, requires less water and produces many products that are used in the area. The researchers have not seen winter kill, except when the crop was planted too late. Canola also helps protect soil from spring wind storms and boosts wheat production in rotation.
Dr. David L. Katz, founding director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center, stood up for canola oil and plant biotechnology in U.S. News & World Report. “For those who disagree about canola, it’s not because they know something I don’t know; I have Google, too. It’s because they believe something I don’t believe,” he said, noting that genetic modification is their principal concern. “Information is not knowledge; information must be interpreted to be knowledge. Expertise facilitates interpretation.” To this end, Katz uses canola oil himself because of its healthy profile and high smoke point.
In response to questions from her readers, popular nutrition columnist Robin Miller dispelled confusion about canola oil writes in The Arizona Republic. Top authorities in the medical and health fields consider canola oil a healthy cooking oil, she explained. “It's made from the crushed seeds of the canola plant; it has less saturated fat than any other oil commonly used in the U.S.; and it's higher in the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) than any other oil except flaxseed oil.”
In a feature on PopSugar.com, Registered Dietitian Julie Upton debunked nutrition myths often debated online. One such myth is that canola oil is made from rapeseed plants, which she explained is false. While canola and rapeseed are cousins, they are distinctly different in their composition. Upton confirmed that canola oil is safe and healthy, as it has less saturated fat and more heart-protective, plant-based omega-3s than other common cooking oils.
Popular media outlet Women’s Health discussed fat sources for a healthy diet, including canola oil. The feature cited a study conducted by Dr. David Jenkins this year showing “that this versatile cooking oil may help improve blood sugar control in type 2 diabetics.”
Oil Around the World
Canada and the European Union finalized a Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement on Sept. 26 that will pave the way for tariff-free canola oil exports to the EU, which is expected in early 2016. The Canola Council of Canada estimates this change could increase sales for exporters by up to $90 million a year but it is cautious because such trade hinges on the EU approving biotech traits in a timely fashion. “We are pleased that the EU has agreed to approve new traits as quickly as possible – this will help our growers have timely access to new technology that conserves resources, improves sustainability and increases profitability,” said CCC President Patti Miller.
The battle continues in India over the labeling of canola oil, as the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India mandated it be labeled as rapeseed oil – low erucic acid as broadly defined by the Codex Standard for Named Vegetable Oils (canola oil is listed next to it). The ruling is holding up imported containers of canola oil from entering the country. The case is going to the Supreme Court in October, which will decide the future of labels on imported canola oil.
Latest Industry News
Construction of Northstar Agri Industries’canola processing plant in Enid, Okla., has been stalled to wait for acreage growth since a winter drought stunted the crop. “We need 1 million acres to support a plant and last year it was 350,000,” said Neil Juhnke, Northstar president and chief operating officer. “We had expected it to double to 750,000 acres. Last year at this time, we thought we could get to 1 million acres by the 2016 crop, which is when the plant construction would have been completed.” Meanwhile, the company has refocused its energy on expanding its canola processing plant in Hallock, Minn.
Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear praised Hart AgStrong for building a canola processing plant that will add jobs to the community and improve the livelihood of local farmers. The new plant is expected to open this fall and will crush 150 tons of canola oilseeds per day. By early 2017, the plant aims to increase its crushing capacity and add a vegetable oil refining facility.
About the USCA
The National Canola Research Conference will be Nov. 4-5 in conjunction with the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America and Soil Science Society of America's annual meetings in Long Beach, Calif. Scheduled presentations include: “Opportunities and Challenges for Developing an Oilseed to Renewable Jet Fuel Industry,” “Desiccant Effect on Canola Seed Moisture, Yield and Quality” and “Broadening of Genetic Diversity in Spring Canola.” Register and book a hotel online.
The Northern Canola Growers Association is hosting its 18th Annual Canola Expo on Wednesday, Dec. 10 in Langdon, N.D. The keynote speaker this year is Jerry Gulke of the Gulke Group.
The 2015 PNW Oilseed and Direct Seed Conference will be Jan. 20-22, 2015 at Three Rivers Convention Center in Kennewick, Wash. More information is online.