Capitol Hill

Agronomy

Nutrition

Other Country News

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A supplement to U.S. Canola Digest


Capitol Hill

On Jan. 25, Senator Heidi Heitkamp (ND) wrote to Jordan Leonard, acting chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), in support of a Honey Bee & Pollinator Habitat Enhancement under the Conservation Stewardship Program. The enhancement would encourage growers to plant canola and sunflowers as habitats for honey bees and wild pollinators. The U.S. Canola Association (USCA), National Sunflower Association and American Honey Producers Association initiated this enhancement with NRCS in December. Canola and sunflower crops are ideal habitats for honey bees, which have suffered from habitat loss and other threats in recent years.  

The USCA and 68 other trade associations asking Congressional leadership to pass a multi-year extension of “tax extenders,” which includes biodiesel tax credits, as soon as possible. Various tax provisions impacting renewable energy and other industries expired at the end of 2016 and have yet to be renewed. Industry leaders argue “every day that these provisions remain lapsed creates further confusion and uncertainty for taxpayers, while needlessly undermining economic growth and job creation in the private sector.”

Agronomy

By now, it’s well-understood that climate change impacts plant growth, but not how … until now. A study by Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg and the Leibniz Institute for Plant Biochemistry looked into how changing temperatures are impacting plant growth. They found a special hormone in Arabidopsis seedlings that reacts positively around 28 °C (82 °F).  This hormone can help researchers breed plants more tolerant of higher temperatures. 

Former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels wrote in support of plant biotechnology (GMOs)  in The Washington Post, dismantling arguments by Westerners against it. In his op-ed, he wrote that Americans and Europeans are willing to “pay premium prices for ‘non-GMO’ or ‘organic’ foods that may, in some cases, be less safe and less nutritious” than biotech counterparts. “For the rich and well-fed to deny Africans, Asians or South Americans the benefits of modern technology is not merely anti-scientific,” Daniels noted. It’s cruel, it’s heartless, it’s inhumane — and it ought to be confronted on moral grounds that ordinary citizens, including those who have been conned into preferring non-GMO Cheerios, can understand.”

Nutrition

“When Penn State University researchers swapped in canola oil for other fats in metabolic syndrome patients for a month, they ended up losing a quarter of a pound of belly fat,” reported the Jan. 3 New York Post. Registered Dietitian Karen Ansel noted the oil’s neutral flavor, therefore, “canola oil works in almost any recipe.”


Dr. David Samadi, a urologic oncologist, provided in the Jan. 10 NY Daily News tips for maintaining prostate health, equating it to heart health. Healthy eating patterns are at the top of the list, which also includes regular exercise and check-ups. Samadi suggests limiting saturated fat from animal sources and cooking with healthy oils like canola oil.

Other Country News

The European Union still can’t seem to figure out how to incorporate genetically modified organisms (GMOs) into agriculture. A 2015 proposal to allow any EU member to ban GMOs – regardless if the crop has the coveted European Commission’s (EC’s) stamp of approval – is stuck in a stalemate between the EC and EU national governments. GMOs remain controversial in the EU, with one-third of its Member States against them, one-third in support and the rest neutral. Agricultural ministers have been almost unanimously critical of the proposal because it is deemed “incomplete, impractical or unnecessary.

Canadian canola will continue to be exported to the EU, as the European Commission decided in December that the crop met the EU’s qualifications for biodiesel production. In order to export biodiesel feedstocks to the EU, it must prove to emit 50 percent less greenhouse gases than diesel.  “The value of canola is determined by export demand, and today’s decision allows us to keep serving the EU market,” noted Jim Everson, president of the Canola Council of Canada.

Canadian canola oil is one step closer to getting exported to Japan and Vietnam after Canada joined talks with 10 other countries for a new Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). High tariffs on this oil, such as 15 percent in Japan, have prevented its export to these countries (Japan is a long-standing customer of Canadian canola seed). The CPTPP would eliminate canola oil and meal tariffs over five years in Japan and Vietnam, which could increase exports of these products by up to $780 million per year, according to the Canola Council of Canada. 

Latest Industry News

Rhonda Brooks, editor of Farm Journal Magazine, calls canola a “small but mighty crop” in a recent column. She points to canola oil’s versatility and popularity as prime examples for farmers to give it a second look. “In the past 40 years, canola has gone from being the sixth-largest oil crop to the second largest globally,” she said.

Canola acreage continues to expand in the Northwest. Washington, Montana, Idaho and Oregon all reported record canola acreage in 2017, with a total of 221,000 acres, according to Karen Sowers of Washington State University’s Department of Crop and Soil Sciences. She cited multiple reasons for the increase, such as more local processors, better prices and weed control tools. 

Richardson International, a Winnipeg-based grain company, announced in January that it won’t renew funding for Canadian canola, flax and soybean organizations in 2018. Its senior vice president for corporate affairs said in an interview that those industry groups were falling short of their “significant cost,” according to the Alberta Farmer Express. Richardson gave most of its $1 million investments to the Canola Council of Canada and urged it to restructure or merge with the Flax Council of Canada and Soy Canada. Canola Council of Canada President Jim Everson responded to the departure wistfully but noted other funders remain committed. “Richardson has raised issues around what they would like to see in terms of reform of the Canola Council, he said. “They are very legitimate points and Council is working to address not only those, but issues that have been raised by others.”

About the USCA

It is with great sadness that the Great Plains Canola Association (GPCA) reports of the passing of Gene Neuens, a pioneer of the canola industry in the southern Great Plains, who helped establish the GPCA and Oklahoma Oilseed Commission. He was also a member of the GPCA and USCA boards. Gene spent more than 40 years working in agriculture, most recently at Producers Cooperative Oil Mill in Oklahoma City, Okla., promoting winter canola and contracting with delivery points for its storage. “Gene left indelible imprint on the canola industry,” noted Ron Sholar, GPCA executive director. “His commitment was a guiding principle for others to follow. Gene was respected by all who knew and worked with him and he will be greatly missed.”

The 5th National Canola Research Conference (NCRC), sponsored by the U.S. Canola Association and industry stakeholders, will be Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 5-6, 2018 in Baltimore, Md. It will be held in conjunction with the American Society of Agronomy annual meeting. The NCRC will begin with two symposiums, one focusing on canola oil and nutrition research and the other on canola production around the world. The symposiums will be followed by oral and poster presentations. "Held once every four years, this conference is an opportunity for canola researchers to showcase what they have been working on to the broader research community," said Mike Stamm, NCRC organizer and ASA member.

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