Canola Quick Bytes

A supplement to U.S. Canola Digest


Capitol Hill

On July 13, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the authorization of emergency procedures to help producers impacted by extreme drought conditions. The USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) is working with crop insurance companies to streamline and accelerate the adjustment of losses and issuance of indemnity payments to crop insurance policyholders in impacted areas. These new crop insurance flexibilities are part of USDA’s broader response to help producers impacted by drought in the west, northern Great Plains, Caribbean and other areas. Emergency procedures allow insurance companies to accept delayed notices of loss in certain situations, streamline paperwork, and reduce the number of required representative samples when damage is consistent. Producers should contact their crop insurance agent as soon as they notice damage. More information is in the USCA Blog.

The House Agriculture Committee voted on July 27 to advance a Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+) Reauthorization Act (H.R. 267) to expand and extend WHIP+ for two years and authorize appropriations of $8.5 billion for 2020 and 2021. WHIP+ is a temporary program that provided assistance to producers for losses in 2018 and 2019. Its funding is subject to appropriations, which could come later this year. The Senate Agriculture Committee has signaled its support for extending and expanding WHIP+ as well. The House bill also authorizes the WHIP+ Milk Loss Program and On-Farm Storage Loss Program. It will maintain the causes of loss for 2018-19, including high winds, excessive heat, freeze and drought. Administrative improvements in the bill include:

  • Continued requirement that participants purchase crop insurance coverage of at least 60%, or NAP where insurance isn’t available, for two years after receiving assistance
  • Directs USDA to streamline the application process and reduce the workload of county offices
  • Use of net indemnities would account for the producer-paid premium in the calculation
  • Unharvested acres are treated in the same manner as under NAP.
  • Mechanism for payments to producers through sugar processors and dairy co-operatives

The FY 2022 agriculture appropriations bill was passed by the full House of Representatives as part of a package with several other appropriations bills. The House bill will now wait for action by the Senate and includes funding for the Supplemental & Alternative Crops (SAC) program, which funds the National Canola Research Program. However, the House bill only provides $663,000 for SAC, a decrease from the $1 million provided in FY2021. The U.S. Canola Association is seeking an increase in SAC funding for FY22 and will continue to push for the higher funding level in the Senate version. Overall, the House proposal would increase annual discretionary funding for farm, food and rural programs by more than 10 percent. The measure totals $26.55 billion, an increase of $2.85 billion compared to current levels.

The USDA’s Economic Research Service issued estimates showing that farmers received $57.7 billion in total federal aid last year, more than 60 percent of which came from Coronavirus Food Assistance Program and other COVID-19 relief programs. Altogether, the COVID-related aid amounted to $35.2 billion. Farm bill commodity and conservation programs accounted for $13.1 billion in payments and the Market Facilitation Program paid out $3.7 billion in trade assistance in 2020. Farmers’ net indemnities from crop insurance totaled $5.7 billion. The USDA’s 2021 farm income forecast expects direct government payments to drop by about 45 percent this year, bringing overall net farm income down about 8 percent. That would still be above average across the past 20 years, adjusted for inflation.

The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is soliciting feedback on a proposal to add three types of genetic modifications to plants that would exempt from USDA’s biotech regulations. These modifications are similar and functionally equivalent to modifications that could otherwise be achieved through conventional breeding. APHIS is accepting public comments on the proposal through Aug. 18.

Six groups have filed suit against the regulations implemented last year to streamline the regulation of gene-edited crop traits and allow companies to self-determine whether their products need USDA approval. The suit was filed by the Center for Food Safety, National Family Farm Coalition, Pesticide Action Network North America, Center for Environmental Health, Friends of the Earth and Center for Biological Diversity. The groups contend that the regulatory exemptions violate the Endangered Species Act, National Environmental Policy Act and Plant Protection Act, abdicating the USDA’s statutory duty to provide meaningful oversight of biotech organisms.

Agronomy

Due to dry, windy and hot conditions in the Prairies, grasshoppers have been thriving this year. They typically feed on the green parts of canola plants, which can compromise pods. To avoid further damage, spraying crops may be necessary on affected areas only.

Nutrition

Fat is an important part of everyone’s diet. It gives you energy and helps the body absorb soluble vitamins. However, the types of fat and amounts you put into your body matter. Consuming unsaturated fat, which makes up 93 percent of canola oil, as opposed to saturated fat, can reduce your risk of heart disease. That’s why the Food and Drug Administration authorized a qualified health claim for canola oil on its ability to reduce this risk.

Other Country News

Canola oil may take to the skies! Covenant Energy Ltd., a Saskatchewan-based company is set on turning canola oil into jet fuel. Due to increased demand for emissions reduction in the aviation industry and the Canadian government’s clean fuel regulation, the project seems like a great idea. It could give canola producers another channel for selling their product.

The European Union hopes to double its canola imports by 2030 per its Farm to Fork Strategy, which calls for more organic farming and reducing fertilizer use by 50 percent. EU canola (double low rapeseed) is declining and this strategy may further reduce it, forcing canola imports. This will be driven by both food and biofuel demand for canola oil. EU countries will need to source canola from other countries, which could create a shift in the market.

CROPLAN CP1022WC G2FLEX ('Chinook') in Moscow, IdahoA drought in the Canadian prairies is threatening canola crops. Chuck Penner at LeftField Commodity Research says that losses are not often this widespread. Despite having a higher seeded area than last year, canola production is expected to decrease due to less-than-ideal growing conditions, which could affect several agricultural markets.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) voiced a complaint against China that will hopefully ease restrictions against Canadian canola seed. This comes two years after China suspended canola imports due to Canada’s arrest of a Huawei executive on behalf of the U.S. government. The case will be heard by the WTO board and they will decide if further action needs to be taken. 

Latest Industry News

The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service unexpectedly reported that the U.S. soybean crop condition declined, despite opposite predictions. This has driven up soybean prices and by association, canola prices, too.

About the USCA

U.S. Canola Association (USCA) Board Member Anna Scharf, a canola grower in Oregon, was appointed to the Oregon House of Representatives for District 23. She was the clear favorite among appointees, receiving 9 of 11 votes. She has been a long-time advocate of canola production in the Willamette Valley. On behalf of the USCA, congratulations Anna!

The USCA will host its autumn annual meeting in Nashville, Tenn., Monday-Wednesday, Nov. 8-10, barring COVID-19 interference. All USCA members are welcome to attend. Registration details forthcoming online.

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