Capitol Hill

Agronomy

Nutrition

Oil Around the World

Latest Industry News

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A supplement to U.S. Canola Digest


Capitol Hill

The Senate approved legislation on June 24 granting President Obama enhanced negotiating powers to complete a major Pacific trade accord, including with canola trading partners Japan and Canada, according to The New York Times. The vote, 60 to 38, represents a win for one of Obama’s top legislative priorities in his final years in office and sends the bill to his desk for signature. This so-called Trade Promotion Authority limits Congress to an up or down vote, but no amendments can be made on any trade agreements negotiated by the White House.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ruled that artificial trans fat – found in partially hydrogenated vegetable oils to extend shelf life in some food products and chain restaurant menu items – must be removed from all products over the next three years, according to NBCNews.com. Such trans fat increases the risk of heart disease. "In this case, it has become clear that what's good for extending shelf life is not equally good for extending human life," said an FDA spokeswoman. While the agency estimates that 80 percent of trans fat has already been removed, there is still a ways to go. Liquid cooking oils, such as canola oil, are healthy alternatives to sources of trans fat and saturated fat.

Of the 17,420 canola-producing U.S. farms that elected for either Price Loss Coverage (PLC) or Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) protection under the 2014 Farm Bill, the overwhelming majority (97.3%) opted for the PLC option, reported the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency. The ARC-County option was chosen by 2.2 percent of canola farms, while 0.5 percent selected the ARC-Individual option. The election deadline to sign up for coverage was March 31, and farmers are locked into the choice for five years.

Agronomy

Oregon's House and Senate approved legislation to permit limited production of canola in the state's Willamette Valley through 2019, but the battle continues over whether growers will ever be allowed to plant more than the measure's prescribed 500 acres for research, reported Capital Press. Canola opponents worry that it will cross-pollinate with the region's other Brassica crops and damage the valley's specialty seed business. The study, conducted by Oregon State University (OSU), is intended to determine if canola can co-exist with other crops. To quiet concerns about a pro-canola bias by OSU, lawmakers included a provision in the bill that requires the research to be evaluated by vegetable seed experts.
 
With the April announcement that blackleg has been spotted in 10 of 11 northern Idaho winter canola fields, the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) has proposed expansion of the Washington Crucifer Quarantine. These updates include requirements that any crucifer seeds planted in Eastern Washington must be laboratory tested and found free of blackleg and treated. WSDA Seed Program Manager Victor Shaul noted "that blackleg [is] such a serious threat that every measure should be taken to prevent it from establishment in Washington." A public hearing on this topic will be held July 7 in Yakima, Wash.
 
The provincial government of Ontario, Canada has unveiled North 
America’s first agricultural restrictions on neonicotinoid insecticides, a widely used class of crop protection products that some blame for the decline in honey bees and other pollinators. The controversial regulations, which aim to reduce the use of these insecticides by 80 percent within two years, goes into effect on July 1, as reported by The Globe and Mail. Yet Greg Sekulic, a spokesman for Bees Matter (a Canadian initiative to promote the importance of honey bees to agriculture) and an agronomist with the Canola Council of Canada, said that honey bees are thriving, pointing to the rising number of managed hives. “We’ve got a very, very mutually beneficial relationship with bees and beekeepers and we want to make sure that continues,” he said. In fact, the number of honeybees across the country reached more than 700,000 in 2012, up from 600,000 in 2000, according to Statistics Canada data. More than 70 percent of these colonies are in Western Canada, where nearly all of the canola crop is treated with neonicotinoid seed treatments.

Nutrition

Condé Nast's Epicurious.com sang the praises of canola oil, and specifically spelled out when and why it's a better option than olive oil. Higher smoke point, neutral flavor, low saturated fat content and affordable price tag are among the reasons top chefs and home cooks alike give canola oil high marks.

In articles on SELF.com and Yahoo! Health, CanolaInfo spokesperson Sarah-Jane Bedwell, R.D. discussed the health benefits of serving canola oil mayo in place of the typical condiment at summer barbecues. "Since it is made with canola oil, it is all heart-healthy fat and doesn't have any saturated fat or cholesterol," she wrote.

A lighter spin on Latino cooking, including the use of canola oil in place of other cooking oils, was showcased in this PopSugar.com article quoting Amanda Foti, R.D. "Contrary to popular belief, canola oil is just as healthy as olive oil," she said. "In fact, canola oil contains less saturated fat, which can be damaging to your heart."

Oil Around the World

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently released its Oilseeds and Products Annual Gain Report. Highlights for 2015-2016 include a 2 percent increase in oilseed production over 2014-2015; a 6 percent rise in canola crush thanks to increased capacity and healthy supplies; a similar 6 percent jump in total oils production; and a 2 percent increase in total oils exports.

Latest Industry News

The nation's canola producers planted 1.57 million acres in 2015, down 8 percent from 2014, but still the third largest on record, according to the June 30 plantings summary by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service. North Dakota producers planted an estimated 1.23 million acres, up 3 percent from last year. The report projects a harvested area of 1.52 million acres, down 2 percent from last year.

Canola futures hit two-year highs following market reactions to Canada's bad frosts last winter, reported ABC Rural.com. After producing a record global crop of 71.6 million metric tonnes last year, farmers in the world's largest production regions - Canada and the European Union - looked to other crops as prices came down and soils needed new rotations. "Canadian farmers have been going flat out on canola for the last couple of years, and from what we read it seems to be a case of having to rotate some different crops through," according to a market analyst.

Erosion of clubroot resistance is showing up across Alberta, Canada, reported the Canola Council of Canada (CCC). Recent research by Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development and the University of Alberta confirmed the continued spread, with multiple virulent pathotypes suspected. "These new fields aren't clustered around the original location of resistance breakdown," said Dan Orchard, agronomy specialist and clubfoot lead with the CCC, who urged close management. "They are hundreds of kilometres apart and throughout the clubroot-infested areas of the province. Identifying breakdown will aid the entire industry in agronomic research and varietal development efforts to manage this disease." CCC partner DuPont Pioneer is developing new canola varities to combat clubfoot resistance.

The Great Plains Canola Association, Oklahoma State University (OSU) and several other partners will host the 11th annual winter canola conferences July 14 in Enid, Okla., and July 15 in Vernon, Texas. Session topics include variety and hybrid performance, no-till stand establishment and winter survival, soil fertility and nutrient uptake, and canola seed handling and storage. The conferences, offered free of charge, are aimed at both experienced canola growers as well as first-time canola producers, said Josh Bushong, OSU Cooperative Extension canola specialist, an event organizer.

The Northern Canola Growers Association will host its annual crop research event and tour July 16 at the North Dakota State University Langdon Research Extension Center. Presentation topics include an overview of the center's research, groundwater management, clubroot, problem weeds in North Dakota and the use of drones to identify crop disease. The event is free of charge and includes lunch, sponsored by the association.

About the USCA

Mark your calendars! Now's the time to register and make arrangements to attend the USCA Board of Directors meeting taking place at Hotel Mazarin in New Orleans Nov. 9-11, 2015.

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