The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act was introduced to Congress in March by Representatives Mike Pompeo (R-Kansas) and G.K. Butterfield (D-North Carolina). The bill is backed by the Coalition for Safe Affordable Food, which the U.S. Canola Association joined in 2014. The goal of the legislation is to create a consistent, national, science-based food labeling law to protect consumers, farmers and food producers from a confusing, unworkable patchwork of state-by-state labeling initiatives. It will also reaffirm the Food and Drug Administration as the authority on food safety and labeling guidelines.
Canola acreage in 2015 is expected to decrease nationally by 9 percent due to declines in the Pacific Northwest and Southern Great Plains, according to the March 31 prospective plantings summary by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. The report projects a total of 1.55 million acres of U.S. canola. North Dakota acreage is expected to hold steady at 1.2 million acres.
Monsanto announced the development of canola with more stacked herbicide tolerance traits, according to Country Guide. One product, TruFlex™ Roundup Ready®, allows farmers to apply Roundup WeatherMAX® at rates about double those of first-generation systems and better controls annual weeds and perennials. This new product also provides a longer application window, 10-14 days longer than the current technology. It is expected to be commercially available before 2020.
A collective study is pushing back against banning neonicotinoid insecticides, citing economic effects and safety concerns, according to KTIC Radio. Analyst Pete Nowak, co-author of the study, explained, “Looking at the agriculture studies, it will cost growers of the eight major commodity crops [including cotton, corn and soybeans] $848 million to make the transition to a non-neonic future. If they’re completely banned, that’s a hefty price tag.” After meeting with farmers, researchers also reported that banning neonics would force a return to older pyrethroids and organophosphates that require the use of safety suits, more equipment and more trips into the field.
The Canola Council of Canada identified the most important agronomy priorities for 2015, according to Farms.com, ranking “how to identify fertility shortcomings” at the top of the list. Also important: assessing data quality, choosing the right seeding rate and rotating canola varieties. By rotating varieties, growers can improve weed control and reduce disease risk.
The Internet is filled with questionable health claims, wrote Julie Upton, who clarified healthy eating myths in U.S. News & World Report. In particular, some recent studies claim diets high in saturated fat may not be as bad as once thought; however, the studies have several major limitations and misinterpreted results. The American Heart Association still recommends no more than 7 percent of total calories from saturated fat. To accomplish this, eat lean meats and use oils low in saturated fat and high in mono- and polyunsaturated fats, such as canola oil, Upton advised. She also noted that canola oil can replace butter in baking without affecting texture.
The cooking oil aisle is long at the supermarket, which can sometimes be a source of confusion for shoppers, noted Sur La Table’s blog. Which ones are truly necessary in the kitchen? The blog said three, including canola oil because of its neutral flavor, high smoke point, heart-healthy omega-3 fat and less expensive price than olive oil. It’s a “great all-purpose choice for high-heat cooking and baking,” the blogger noted.
University of California’s Berkeley Wellness addressed myths and truths about canola oil, clarifying both its origins and nutritional benefits. The newsletter explained, for example, that canola oil has the least saturated fat of all vegetable oils and consists mostly of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat. It also detailed how canola is entirely different from rapeseed and was bred to dramatically reduce erucic acid in the oil.
Oil Around the World
The Canola Council of Canada (CCC) elected new leaders to its board of directors during its annual convention in Banff, Alberta, in March. Brian Conn of Louis Dreyfus Commodities Canada Ltd. was elected as the new chair, reported Portage Online. He replaced Terry Youzwa, who served a two-year term. New board members include Michael Irons of Archer Daniels Midland Co., Greg Sears of Alberta Canola Producers Commission and Greg Stokke of Pioneer Hi-Bred.
At the convention this year, Ed Rempel, president of the Manitoba Canola Growers Association, predicted good things for canola in 2015. He said precision agriculture and big data will be key in the coming years. “We’re having a very serious discussion here amongst our directors about how we can get this new way of thinking out to our members,” he noted.
Latest Industry News
The Minnesota Canola Council held its 2015 Canola School in March, featuring an agronomic introduction to growing canola by Dave Grafstrom, agronomist at the Minnesota Canola Production Centre. Mark Christianson of RCIS provided an overview of current canola crop insurance options and representatives from Bayer CropScience, DuPont Pioneer and Star Specialty Seed discussed canola seed options for 2015.
About 350 farmers and industry members turned out for Canola College in Enid, Okla., in February, reported the High Plains/Midwest Ag Journal. The day’s focus: fundamentals of growing winter canola. “This year with the drought, it was tough on canola … so we thought we should get back to basics,” said Jeff Scott, president of the Great Plains Canola Association, which hosted the meeting. “Right now, we need growers to look at the next 100 days of the crop, and get them to harvest and help them grow the best canola they can because Mother Nature isn’t helping much.” Mike Stamm, Kansas State University canola breeder, said there are many new cultivars being developed in the public sector that have the potential to make the crop sustainable in the long term.
The Prairie Premium Oil canola crushing plant located in Northwood, N.D., was shut down temporarily, according to AgWeek. The plant manager indicated it was due to a maintenance cycle but did not have a timeline for when it would reopen.
Legumex Walker Inc., a Canadian processor of specialty crops, announced it is expanding capacity for high-oleic omega-9 canola oil with Dow AgroSciences Canada and non-GMO canola oil and meal with The Scoular Company. “Additional higher-margin products that we are discussing with potential partners include those derived from both canola and special crops, which would drive growth and profitability within both of our operating segments,” said CEO Joel Horn. This shift toward high-value specialty food ingredients has prompted a strategic review of Legumex’s business structure, including strategic financing, a merger or sale of the company or a portion of its business.
About the USCA
The 2015-16 term for the U.S. Canola Association’s (USCA’s) Board of Directors began April 1 with new leadership in place. Producer Jeff Scott of Pond Creek, Okla., is president. Robert Rynning of Kennedy, Minn., is first vice president and Pat Murphy of Minot, N.D., is second vice president.
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