Canola Quick Bytes

A supplement to U.S. Canola Digest

Capitol Hill

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act offers $9.5 billion to agricultural producers economically impacted by the pandemic. The money, given by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Commodity Credit Corporation, will assist producers of specialty crops, livestock and those who supply local food systems. The CARES Act also provides an additional $14 billion to replenish the corporation, which will give the USDA the ability to provide a third round of Market Facilitation Program payments or other assistance needed.

The USDA’s Risk Management Agency announced flexibilities on crop insurance filings in response to COVID-19. They include enabling producers to send notifications and reports electronically, extending report deadlines, providing additional time, and deferring interest on premiums and other payments.

The USDA announced that the U.S. State Department and Department of Homeland Security have agreed to temporarily waive in-person interview requirements for H-2A and H-2B visa applicants in order to help maintain a steady labor force for agriculture during the coronacrisis. U.S. embassies and consulates in Mexico closed March 18 because of the pandemic. The agencies also announced efforts to identify nearly 20,000 H-2A and H-2B certified jobs that have expiring contracts in coming weeks who could be available to transfer to a different employer’s labor certification.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued an emergency declaration to extend the waiver for trucking hours of service, rules and regulations, including trucks hauling feed and fertilizer. In addition, because many Department of Motor Vehicle offices are closed, FMCSA has waived certain requirements related to Commercial Drivers Licenses.

Due to the coronavirus crisis, implementation of the U.S.-China phase one trade deal is uncertain. There are delays in transportation because of lockdowns and supply chain disruptions. However, China recently announced significant purchases of U.S. wheat and imports of U.S. poultry, pork and beef products are expected to increase this year.


In our April blog post, USCA Communications Director Angela Dansby discusses projects funded by the National Canola Research Program (NCRP), which is designed to meet the sustainable and emerging needs of U.S. canola-growing regions. Projects include improving canola production and production systems in the Pacific Northwest, development and management of canola in the Great Plains, and enhancing productivity and profitability of canola in the North Central U.S. A special shout-out goes to retiring Jack Brown, Ph.D., of the University of Idaho for his many years of leading canola breeding and research in the Pacific Northwest.

The National Agricultural Statistics Service released its 2020 Prospective Planting Intentions report, revealing that producers intend to plant nearly 2 million acres of canola this year – down 51,000 acres or 2.5% from 2019. Kansas and Oklahoma are predicted to be down in acreage by 65%, with 10,000 and 12,000 acres planted; Washington down 6.6% with 70,000 acres; and North Dakota down 2.3% with 1.66 million acres. However, Minnesota intends to increase canola acreage by 21.5% to 62,000, up 11,000; and Montana by 16.6% to 175,000, up 25,000 acres.


Which food essentials should you stock in your pantry during quarantine? ABC-TV’s “Good Morning America” suggests a neutral oil like canola oil for cooking and baking. In addition to being versatile, canola oil is heart-healthy!

Other Country News

Scientists from the Global Institute for Food Security at the University of Saskatchewan, along with academic and global seed company leaders, cracked the canola genome this year. The team sequenced 12 genomes which will “advance breeding for rapeseed and canola, benefiting researchers, the industry, producers and consumers.” The team also hopes its findings will lead to new canola varieties that are more resistant to adverse weather.

Because China plants grain in the spring, it is expected to meet its grain targets despite the coronavirus. China is working to get extra supplies to farmers in Hubei province, an important rice-growing region and the epicenter of the outbreak. Because of this, a higher price will be paid by state reserves for rice this year, which will inspire farmers to grow more grain, says Pan Wenbo, director of planting administration at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.

Latest Industry News

As a grower, there are steps you can take to protect your farm against COVID-19. Washing your hands often for at least 20 seconds and checking supplies are easy. Other measures include preparing for remote work, considering sick leave for employees and communicating with everyone involved so they know what to expect.

Looking for the latest news about agriculture and COVID-19? The USDA offers a new web section:

About the USCA

Congratulations to Tim Mickelson, canola grower in Rolla, N.D., who was elected to the USCA Board of Directors on March 11. He succeeds Ryan Pederson of Rolla, whom the board thanks very much for many years of leadership. Grower Directors Anna Scharf of Amity, Ore., and Bryan Aalund of Hazen, N.D. were re-elected for another three-year term.

The next USCA board meeting will be Mon.-Wed., Nov. 9-11, 2020 in Nashville, Tenn. The spring 2021 board and annual membership meeting will be Tue.-Thu., March 9-11 in Washington, D.C.

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