On Nov. 17, U.S. Canola Association (USCA) representatives participated in a meeting with U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Farm Service Agency (FSA) regarding implementation of $10 billion in disaster assistance enacted by Congress for events in 2020-21. The USDA is requesting input on how to implement this disaster assistance, what aspects of the existing WHIP+ structure worked and what needs to be improved going forward. The FSA noted that the last WHIP+ separated production and quality losses and they are open to combining those aspects going forward in an effort to streamline implementation. The FSA could not offer an estimate on timing of the disaster assistance, only that it won’t get out before the end of this calendar year. The hope is that they can get it out in the first quarter of 2022.
The USCA signed a letter requesting that the U.S. government engage the government of Mexico at the highest levels to address Mexico’s recent actions affecting agricultural biotechnology and trade of U.S. agricultural biotech products. These actions are out-of-step with Mexico’s commitments under the US-Mexico-Canada Free Trade Agreement (USMCA), and if not reversed, the U.S. government should use the enforcement tools of USMCA to achieve resolution. Since 2018, the government of Mexico has not used science-based risk assessment to process applications of new biotech products. As a result, there is now a backlog of 25 products pending approval. Mexico also issued a decree announcing its intention to phase-out biotech products, including a ban on imports of genetically modified corn for human consumption by 2024.
By a vote of 76 to 19, the Senate confirmed Robert Bonnie as USDA Undersecretary for Food Production and Conservation, which includes the FSA, Natural Resources Conservation Service and Risk Management Agency (RMA). Bonnie has served as Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s deputy chief of staff and senior climate adviser as well as USDA Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment in the Obama administration. Bonnie is expected to play a key role in USDA’s climate initiatives. The Biden administration named Marcia Bunger, owner and operator of a 2,000-acre, family farm in South Dakota, as administrator of the RMA, which is in charge of federal crop insurance. Before joining the USDA, she served as an FSA county executive director for 18 years in South Dakota.
The White House unveiled a new plan for addressing supply chain bottlenecks, mostly by accelerating the awarding of grants for ports, waterways and freight networks. Within 45 days, the administration plans to launch programs “to modernize ports and marine highways with more than $240 million in grant funding.” The Transportation Department will award $230 million in funding for the Port Infrastructure Development Grant program and $13 million for the Marine Highway Program to support waterborne freight service. The White House also says it will identify projects for Army Corps of Engineers construction at coastal ports and inland waterways within the next 60 days, providing “a roadmap for more than $4 billion in funding to repair outdated infrastructure and to deepen harbors for larger cargo ships.” In addition, the administration will “prioritize key ports of entry for modernization and expansion within the next 90 days.”
November saw Congress pass the long-awaited infrastructure bill with support of agricultural groups, including the USCA. The bill provides $550 billion in additional funding for infrastructure, including $110 billion for roads and bridges, $65 billion for broadband, $17.3 billion for long-standing needs at ports and inland waterways. The measure was passed with bipartisan support by a vote of 69-30 in the Senate and 228-206 in the House. Meanwhile, Democrats are still working to secure votes in the Senate to pass the “Build Back Better” package using the partisan budget reconciliation process. This package, as passed by the House, includes $28 billion for agriculture conservation programs, $2 billion for agricultural research, $18 billion for USDA biofuel and rural energy programs, extension of the biodiesel and renewable diesel tax credit, and a new tax credit for sustainable aviation fuel. Overall, the package as currently constructed would total $1.75 trillion, mostly for health- and climate change-related programs.
What attracts pollinators to canola flowers? Their bright yellow color and volatile compounds, according to new data collected by Jason de Koff, Ph.D., extension associate professor at Tennessee State University. “Canola is the only restaurant in town for pollinators during its early flowering stages,” he says. “Pollinator diversity is higher during this period as well.”
“Just because canola goes in the bin dry doesn’t mean it’s safe,” warns Leighton Blashko, senior technical service specialist at BASF. Regarding safe canola storage, he notes “it’s not only moisture content, but also things like the temperature that the canola was binned at, any dockage or amounts of dockage that went in with the canola, and then maybe in certain cases, there are molds or even green seed concerns.” He recommends using charts from the Canola Council of Canada to determine respiration rates for safe storage. With the value of canola at record highs, it’s important to watch bin conditions more than ever.
What’s the skinny on fats? Fat is a source of energy in the body and a precursor for certain hormones among other things. Everyone needs some fat, but predominantly unsaturated types because they can lower total and LDL cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. Good news for canola oil consumers: This oil contains 93 percent unsaturated fat! It contributes to a healthy, heart-smart diet.
The European Union (EU) is doubling down on renewable energy production with a 28 percent target in renewables for the transportation center by 2030. Although this is good news for Canadian canola producers, who can export their crop for biofuel production, there is a catch: The EU has a 7% limit on the amount of crop-based biofuel that can be used in the transport sector because the use of food for fuel is not perceived to be sustainable.
The Australian canola market is booming with record yields and prices. It has produced more than 5 million tons of canola that is estimated to be worth more than $4 billion for the first time. While Canada is dealing with droughts and having difficulty meeting canola demands, Australia is having its best year ever. That’s largely because it received normal to above average rainfalls unlike drought-stricken Canada.
The USDA reduced its forecast for Canadian canola exports by 600,000 metric tons (mt) to 5.7 million mt, which is down 46 percent from the 2020-21 crop year and the lowest exports seen since 2007-08. The USDA increased its forecast for domestic use by 700,000 mt to 8.7 million mt, but this is down 19.3 percent from 2020-21 and the lowest since 2015-16.
Merit Functional Foods inaugurated the world’s first plant for food-grade canola protein. This 94,000-square-foot facility is operating at 90 percent capacity to produce canola and pea proteins to meet a growing demand for plant-based proteins.
The 24th Annual Northern Canola Growers Association (NCGA) Canola Expo will be in Langdon, N.D., on Tuesday, Dec. 14. Featured speaker Mike Krueger will discuss the “Renewable Fuel Revolution” that is changing oilseed markets for the next decade. He will also discuss the domestication of the oilseed industry. Longtime canola expert Ron Beneda will moderate a panel of growers on “New Innovations in Canola Planting” that you won’t want to miss. Ven Chapara will discuss results of a newly completed clubroot survey and Jan Knodel will discuss diamondback moth control in canola in 2021. The Expo will feature a trade show and the NCGA annual membership meeting.
The NCGA held its 15th Annual Canola Research Conference on Thursday, Nov. 4 in Fargo, N.D. Regional canola researchers presented their 2021 findings. The video of the meeting and presentations can be seen at northerncanola.com.
The USCA welcomed new board members Mark Hanson of ADM, Samantha Davis of Bayer and Macie O’Shaughnessy of Syngenta during its hybrid board meeting in Nashville, Tenn., Nov. 9-10. Regional representatives reported that North Dakota had production challenges this year like Canada; Minnesota harvested acres were up 27 percent, including some winter canola; Pacific Northwest acres went up substantially and Great Plains acres started to climb back. The USCA is creating a working group to look at lifecycle analysis and carbon intensity of canola oil for biofuels as they pertain to implementation of various low-carbon fuel programs and incentives.
Climate action will also be a major focus of the 2023 Farm Bill, reported USCA Executive Director John Gordley. The Gordley Associates team also provided a federal policy overview and updates on disaster assistance, infrastructure packages and more. Kate Shenk, National Biodiesel Board Director of Regulatory Affairs, and Ginny King of Marathon Petroleum discussed biodiesel, renewable diesel and low-carbon fuel markets. Chris Davidson of the Canola Council of Canada provided an update on his organization’s activities while industry partners shared developments surrounding the specialty omega-3 trait, carbon markets and climate initiatives. The most memorable performance of the week might have been Board Member Tim Mickelson’s rendition of Oh, Danny Boy at the group dinner. The USCA Board of Directors will convene again at the Phoenix Park Hotel in Washington, DC on March 7-9, 2022.
Get social with us on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Want to promote your products or services to canola producers and industry members? Visit our advertising pages to find specs, deadlines and rates to advertise in this monthly e-newsletter or on UScanola.com.