The passage of a new farm bill continues to be difficult for members of Congress as the House voted down a version of the bill in May. The focus is now on the Senate Agriculture Committee, which is expected to mark up its bill in early June, with the possibility of getting a bill through the Senate by the July 4th recess. U.S. Canola Association (USCA) Assistant Director Dale Thorenson said: “Going forward, it is vital for farmers and the agriculture industry to continue to stress to their members of Congress the importance of enacting a new farm bill this year. They will need to hear from folks ‘back home’ that this is important.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is accepting public comments until July 3 on a new national food labeling standard for bioengineered ingredients. The USCA sent a letter last August recommending a 5 percent threshold for triggering the disclosure and calls for an exemption of this disclosure on refined foods made from bioengineered ingredients that do not contain genetic material, such as canola oil. The USCA sent another letter with the Coalition for Safe, Affordable Food in support of a "uniform national disclosure standard for bioengineered food [that] prevents a patchwork of state-by-state or other governmental subdivision food labeling requirements that would have driven up food costs for consumers."
Despite the uncertainty around the farm bill, canola scored a major win in the Senate Appropriations Committee’s 2019 report, which awarded $1 million to Supplemental and Alternative Crops, which houses the National Canola Research Program. The bill “recognizes the importance of a nationally coordinated, regionally managed canola research and extension program.”
The USCA, along with the National Sunflower Association and American Honey Producers Association, have been in talks for a Honey Bee Habitat Program that would incentivize canola and sunflower acreage to provide more honey bee habitat. The three organizations sent a letter to the Natural Resources Conservation Service to allow farmers to use insecticides in the program when necessary. USCA Assistant Director Dale Thorenson outlines the program in the USCA blog this month.