Capitol Hill

Agronomy

Nutrition

Other Country News

Latest Industry News

About the USCA

 


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A supplement to U.S. Canola Digest


Capitol Hill

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.

Agronomy

Columnist Michael Gerson in The Washington Post makes a case that being anti-GMO also makes one anti-science. “There is no reputable scientific evidence that direct genetic modification — instead of slower genetic modification through selective breeding — has any health effects of any kind. None,” he wrote. While anti-GMO activists succeeded in getting people to believe myths over science, it’s time for people to really start believing the science behind GMO crops, he noted. “There is more than a hint of cultural imperialism when Westerners — grown fat on the success of modern farming — lecture subsistence farmers on the benefits of heirloom breeds and organic methods ... New, drought-resistant crops will be essential as the climate continues to change.” 

It’s time for farmers in the western U.S. to start taking a more serious look at winter canola, said Guy Swanson, head of Exactrix Systems in Spokane, Wash. In No-Till Farmer, he noted canola’s growing popularity in the Western Canadian prairies along with its low soil erosion as reasons Pacific Northwest  farmers should start taking the crop more seriously. “When properly implemented, no-tilling Roundup Ready winter canola drops soil erosion levels well below the expectations of any other cropping system,” Swanson said. “Winter canola also offers better returns than winter wheat and growers can earn bonuses for higher protein and oil content.”

Nutrition

The World Health Organization plans to eliminate trans fatty acids from the global food supply, which is thought to contribute to 500,000 deaths of people worldwide from cardiovascular disease. The new strategy is called REPLACE, which are a few strategic initiatives the WHO hopes governments will take on. REPLACE stands for: REview dietary sources of industrially-produced trans fats and the landscape for required policy change; Promote the replacement of industrially-produced trans fats with healthier fats and oils; Legislate or enact regulatory actions to eliminate industrially-produced trans fats; Assess and monitor trans fat content in the food supply and reduce its consumption in the population; Create awareness of the negative health impact of trans fats among policymakers, producers, suppliers and the public; and Enforce compliance of policies and regulations.

We already know that canola oil is heart-healthy for people, but now there is a body of research that shows the benefits of canola meal for pigs. Pig Progress outlines a handful of recent studies that show canola meal is a cost-effective protein source, particularly for starter pigs. “It is economical to replace soya bean meal partially or fully with canola meal,” the author noted.

The demand for heart-healthy foods that contain omega-3 fats EPA and DHA continues to rise, and it’s going to be biotech plant sources like canola that will ease the burden off fish stocks, according to Food Navigator. At a global omega-3 conference, U.K. researcher Johnathan Napier cited a new initiative by NuSeed in Australia to introduce omega-3-enhanced canola oil into both animal feed and human nutrition. “This technology is going to have a massive impact on the industry,” he said.

Move over Mediterranean diet? CNN reported on the Nordic diet as sharing the same heart health benefits as the Mediterranean diet. Like its namesake suggests, it emphasizes foods sourced from the Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. Like the Mediterranean diet, it focuses on lean proteins, veggies and fruit but with canola oil instead of olive oil. “Canola oil and olive oil are both rich in monounsaturated fats, which promote heart health by raising HDL, the ‘good’ cholesterol, and lowering LDL, the ’bad’ cholesterol,” said Lauri Wright, R.D.,  spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Other Country News

Summer is here and Canadian agricultural experts are warning farmers about the possibility of canola seed burn. As dry conditions continue in the country, producers are being told to avoid banding fertilizer too close to the seed row, according to the Manitoba Cooperator. “Adjust your seeding rate based on your seed size and your fertilizer placement strategy,” said Dane Froese, a provincial oilseeds specialist. “That’s going to be a key component of making sure you have successful canola stand establishment. I’ve already seen it on cereals that are coming up.”

Despite those warnings, Canadian canola continues to dominate national plantings. Statistics Canada released numbers that put canola stockpiles at 9.1 million tonnes – far higher than the 7.9 million tonnes from last year. And there are no signs of crop production slowing down. “Export activity was reasonably steady and there are ideas it will increase in the near future if China and the United States can’t come to an agreement over trade issues,” according to the Western Producer. “Commercial buyers in China have largely maxed out their soybean imports from Brazil and aren’t willing to pay a 25 per cent tariff to the U.S.” 

Latest Industry News

On May 29, federal antitrust regulators granted Bayer and Monsanto permission to merge after the two companies agreed to sell $9 billion in assets – the largest of corporate assets ever required by the U.S. Justice Department, according to The Washington Post. Bayer will sell its seed and herbicide businesses to BASF. It will also sell its emerging digital farming business as well as a variety of intellectual property and R&D projects. These spinoffs are aimed at preventing Bayer and Monsanto from raising the price of agricultural products to farmers and consumers. The $66 billion merger already received approval from regulators in the European Union, Russia and Brazil. With U.S. approval, Bayer said it expects to complete the merger by midsummer.

In an effort to build public trust in GMO products and science, Bayer CropScience announced a new initiative to make the scientific data behind agricultural products open to the public. “Ensuring we have public trust in what goes on the farmer’s land and what winds up on the grocery shelf is of paramount importance,” said Paul Thiel, the company’s vice president of product development and regulatory science. For example, “a consumer may want to know about an insecticide to control flea beetles on canola,” he noted.  “It might work fine for the grower but the company needs to explain its role to the consumer.”

Monsanto announced that it will be ready to commercialize its TruFlex canola trait by the first quarter of 2019. The product had already been approved in Canada, but was waiting approval from China, which is the second largest importer for Canadian canola. The product will “allow for higher glyphosate rates and a wider application window compared to the Roundup Ready trait, which has been grown since 1996,” according to Real Agriculture. In the meantime, trials with TruFlex canola are expected to take place in Western Canada later this year.

The demand for canola oil continues to grow, according to Expert Consulting. In particular, cold pressed canola oil is becoming increasingly popular and the demand is expected to keep growing until 2025. “The global cold-pressed canola oil market is highly competitive and diversified due to the presence of a large number of regional and international vendors across the globe,” per a report that is available for purchase.

About the USCA

Mark your calendars, the Northern Canola Growers Association (NCGA) is co-hosting two canola research tours in North Dakota this summer. On June 26, there will be a tour at the North Central Research Extension Center in Minot focusing on canola harvesting, with emphasis on straight cutting, minimizing harvest loss and residue management. Can't make that one? There will be another on July 19 at the North Dakota State University Research Center in Langdon, focusing on canola disease research and insect updates. Both tours start in the morning and end with a complimentary lunch. For more information and to RSVP, visit the NCGA's Facebook page. 

The 5th National Canola Research Conference (NCRC), sponsored by the USCA 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 (ASA) 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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