On May 20, the Senate Appropriations Committee reported out of full committee its FY 2017 agricultural spending bill. Despite overall funding ($21.25 billion) being down 2 percent from FY 2016, the National Canola Research Program — funded under the line item "Supplemental and Alternative Crops" — received $825,000. This was the same as last year. The House Agricultural Appropriations Committee did not fund the program in its version of the bill (it never has). The two reports should now proceed to the floor of both chambers for passage, then conferenced to resolve differences and considered again in both chambers for final passage. However, regular order has not occurred for several years and if the same procedure as last year occurs, the two reports will be conferenced by the two committees and inserted into an omnibus during the lame duck session in November/December.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released on May 18 its proposed rule for the Renewable Fuel Standard and Renewable Volume Obligations, including volume requirements for biomass-based diesel for 2018 and total advanced biofuels volumes for 2017 and 2018. The proposed rule calls for 2.1 billion gallons of biomass-based diesel in 2018 (requirements for 2016 and 2017 are 1.9 billion and 2.0 billion gallons, respectively). The biomass-based diesel utilization in the U.S. was about 2.1 billion gallons in 2015 and it's expected to exceed that amount in 2016. By law, the EPA is supposed to finalize biomass-based diesel volumes 14 months in advance of the applicable year so it is targeting November 2016 to issue a final rule for 2018 biomass-based diesel volumes. There will be a 60-day public comment period until July 11 and the U.S. Canola Association (USCA) will submit comments.
The Honey Bee Health Coalition — a broad array of stakeholders including beekeepers, growers, researchers, government agencies, agribusinesses, conservationists and brands — is working to improve the health of honey bees in the U.S. and Canada. It is making tremendous progress, including working through the Bee Understanding Project to develop an innovative job swap for beekeepers and growers that is highlighted in an award-winning, short documentary. The coalition is also promoting planting bee forage on agricultural lands and sharing pollinator protection practices for farmers and beekeepers. Visit the coalition's website to learn more about how the U.S. Canola Association and others are working together to promote bee health. National Pollinator Week is June 20-26, 2016!