Canola Quick Bytes
A supplement to U.S. Canola Digest
On April 23, after a nail-biting, reality T.V.-like cliffhanger, President Trump signed a $1.3 trillion budget that keeps the government open through September 2018. The 2,232-page document includes $825,000 for canola research under the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Supplemental and Alternative Crops Competitive Grants Program (SACC). The president’s signature means that these funds are officially available following months of running on a continuing resolution. Applications are now being accepted for SACC, which supports the development of canola as a viable alternative crop. About half of the applicants receive some money, but don’t wait too long: the deadline to apply is April 18.
On March 23, the U.S. Canola Association (USCA) submitted comments on topics and questions related to the development of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 as requested in the Feb. 28, 2018 Federal Register. It summarized studies providing evidence that canola oil can help reduce heart disease risk and abdominal adiposity, manage type 2 diabetes, and may potentially help protect against colon and breast cancers. “Using canola oil as an everyday cooking oil is an easy, effective and budget-friendly way for Americans to reduce their risk of heart disease, manage diabetes and reduce abdominal fat,” said USCA President Rob Rynning. “Preliminary evidence also shows that it may help prevent certain types of cancer as well.”
Included in the new Omnibus Appropriations bill is a provision to revise the Section 199A tax deduction related to agricultural cooperatives. The provision would repeal the 20 percent deduction of gross sales to co-ops. Farmers selling to co-ops would be able to claim a 20 percent deduction on net business income, with limits set on those with high incomes or capital gains. The deduction would be reduced by the lesser of the following amounts: 9 percent of the farmer’s income from sales to the cooperative or 50 percent of wages attributed to those sales. In addition to this tax break, a farmer would be able to claim the pass-through deduction from the co-op, if any. Farms structured as C corporations, like many publicly held companies, would not be eligible for the farmer-level deductions.
The National Agricultural Statistics Service predicts U.S. canola acreage in 2018 at 2.076 million acres. This is steady with last year’s record acreage. On a state level, North Dakota canola plantings are estimated at 1.65 million, Montana 145,000, Oklahoma 70,000, Washington 65,000, Kansas 50,000, and Idaho and Minnesota 45,000.
Canadian scientists are trying to figure out what can be done to prevent – or at least protect – canola crops from clubroot, which can destroy a whole crop. Canadian Light Source in Saskatoon will look at eight canola varieties resistant to clubroot, what can be done to keep their resistance and how the cell walls of a plant change during an infection. Gary Peng, scientist at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Saskatoon Research and Development Centre, compares clubroot to the flu, where research is needed to prevent mutations and keep up disease resistance. “We need to find new resistant genes and use them efficiently,” Peng told the Global News (Canada).
The Minnesota Department of Crop Research Grant Program awarded the Minnesota Canola Council more than $90,000 in March 2018. The three-year grant will allow for research on practices to maximize canola profitability as well as small plot and large on-farm trials to see what brings the greatest return on investment.
USCA board member Anna Scarf discussed farmer values in an editorial tribute to National Ag Week in the March 23 Statesman Journal (Salem, Ore.). “It’s our goal to keep our family farm viable for the fifth and sixth generations and beyond,” she wrote. “However, we won’t get very far if we don’t take excellent care of our land and water. We work hard to make sure the soil gets the nutrients it needs to remain fertile; that pesticides are used sparingly, responsibly, and to the label; and that water is used in the most efficient way possible.”
The Business Standard (New Delhi, India) continued to debunk the myth that canola oil puts people at risk for Alzheimer’s disease and touted canola oil’s proven health benefits. The article pointed to a 2016 study in Obesity journal which found that canola oil added to a healthy diet can reduce belly fat, thereby, reducing risk of heart disease and diabetes.
CNN looked at which foods claim to be heart-healthy and which foods actually walk the walk. Canola oil is highlighted as a good source of omega-3 fat which may help protect against high blood pressure and heart disease, according to Lisa Drayer, CNN’s in-house registered dietitian.
Other Country News
The Canola Council of Canada cheered the official signing of the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership in Santiago, Chile. The trade agreement between 11 countries will open new markets for value-added Canadian canola by eliminating tariffs and establishing rules for other non-tariff barriers. “This … is a very positive step towards enabling more sustainable growth from canola exports,” said Jim Everson, president of the Canola Council of Canada. Once enacted, exports of Canadian canola to China and Vietnam are projected up increase up to $780 million a year.
Good news continues for Canadian canola: The acreage seeded to canola exceeded that of wheat for the first time in the 2017-18 crop season, noted UkrAgroConsult. Production increased by about 9 percent because of the increased acreage. Exports are also projected to increase because of a “strong pace of shipments to China and Japan.”
Latest Industry News
After the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed an antitrust lawsuit against J.M. Smucker Company’s attempted purchase of Conagra’s Wesson cooking oil brand, the companies dropped the deal. In the lawsuit, the FTC alleged that Smucker would control at least 70 percent of the market for canola and vegetable oils at retail, according to the Wall Street Journal. Smucker announced its plan to buy Wesson for $285 million in May 2017. According to Reuters, J.M. Smucker and Conagra are working together to “assess next steps.” “We are disappointed with this conclusion and strongly believe that the acquisition would benefit all of our constituents,” said Mark Smucker, J.M. Smucker’s chief executive.
During the Canola Council of Canada’s annual meeting in March, president Jim Everson outlined an internal review aimed at the continued success for Canadian canola. This review includes five tasks groups focused on changes and opportunities in market access and government advocacy; market development; crop production and innovation; industry leadership; and finance. “Whether it’s in response to factors such as changing cropping patterns in Western Canada, margin pressures facing all links in the value chain or numerous mergers and acquisitions, the economic landscape is changing,” said David Dzisiak, chair of the Canola Council of Canada. “Underscoring this evolution is a need to use resources wisely while working on the most important issues for the canola industry and for Canada’s agriculture and agri-food sector.”
The Minnesota Canola Council awarded its Outstanding Service Award to Donn Vellekson of the University of Minnesota. He has been with the state’s Canola Production Center for the past six years and has overseen several canola trials that have yielded useful information around straight harvesting, planting date and more. The award recognizes such significant contributions to Minnesota’s canola industry.
About the USCA
On Feb. 12, canola researchers presented the results of projects funded by the USDA’s Supplemental and Alternative Crops Competitive Grants Program in Washington, D.C. Two of the researchers, Mike Stamm at Kansas State University and Jack Brown at the University of Idaho, reported in the USCA blog this month their findings about winter canola breeding in the Southern Great Plains and Pacific Northwest.
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