On Jan. 16, the U.S. Senate passed the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) by a vote of 89-10 and President Trump signed it on Jan. 29. The USMCA replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and maintains existing policies for agricultural trade.
President Trump and China’s Vice Premier Liu He signed on Jan. 15 a Phase 1 Trade Agreement. Under it, China will purchase at least $80 billion in U.S. agricultural products over the next two years. China will not lift retaliatory tariffs imposed on certain American goods, but it will likely issue waivers or exclusions for tariffs on items purchased for the $80 billion commitment. The agreement does not specify amounts or products that China will purchase so U.S. agricultural products will compete for sales.
The deadline for comments to U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service on the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard: Validation of Refining Processes was extended to Feb. 7. The U.S. Canola Association is coordinating with other stakeholders on draft comments with these key messages:
- The draft guidance erroneously treats the presence of bioengineered material as a food safety risk and includes overly burdensome validation steps. The intent of the law is to establish a marketing, not food safety standard.
- Lacking are other appropriate means of validating the absence of bioengineered material, such as testing finished products.
- Regarding the absence of bioengineered material, the draft guidance does not provide a clear definition of what “detectable,” or perhaps more importantly “undetectable,” means.
The outlook for major legislative accomplishments in 2020 is not rosy, note Washington insiders Tom Hance and Dale Thorenson in the USCA Blog. But Congress and President Trump did agree to a two-year top-line budget in 2019, which suspends the debt limit into 2021. “This provides some hope for passage of the FY2021 appropriation bills by the end of the calendar year, if not the end of the fiscal year,” notes Hance.
Canola prices remain low, but farmers hope the new trade agreements will increase them. According to APAS (Saskatchewan) President Todd Lewis, there is no lack of demand for the crop, but it’s a demand at the price buyers are willing to pay.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency reminds farmers in Idaho, Oregon and Washington to purchase or modify federal crop insurance coverage on 2020 spring-planted crops by March 15.
Studies show the many dietary benefits of canola oil and modern plant breeders are working to increase canola’s healthy qualities, notes the October 2019 CSA News. “It’s a very valuable commodity because of its human health benefits, and the meal is used as livestock feed,” says Michael Stamm, canola breeder at Kansas State University. “We are finding that canola oil is able to help reduce risk factors for cardiovascular disease,” adds Carla Taylor, professor of food and human nutritional sciences at the University of Manitoba. Their message: eat canola oil!
Protein Industries Canada and partners agreed to invest more than $27 million in commercial canola breeding to create higher quality protein. Partners include Corteva Agriscience and public sector sources to identify genes that result in high protein and reduced fiber, Bunge for processing seeds from the new varieties and Botaneco to generate high-value canola meal and other protein products.
The National Biodiesel Board held its annual conference the week of Jan. 20 in Tampa, Fla. It unveiled its new public vision statement that calls for 6 billion gallons of biodiesel, renewable diesel and renewable jet fuel by 2030 to be utilized on and off road as well as in air transportation, electricity generation and home heating applications.
A joint agreement between Nestlé and Merit Functional Foods and their technology investor, Burcon NutraScience, will scale up pea and canola protein production. Nestlé plans to use these novel plant proteins in its food and beverages around the world. The world’s largest food producer has expanded its plant-based portfolio in recent years, so investing in canola protein is its logical next step.
The Montana Department of Agriculture (MDA) will hold a listening session on Friday, Feb. 14 at 11 am in Glendive, Mont., to receive grower input on a prospective commodity advisory committee for a new oilseed commission. Growers can comment on the committee’s composition, crops to be included and rate of assessment. Based on their feedback, the MDA may propose an oilseed research and market development program for adoption by administrative rule. Growers interested in providing comments should contact the Pacific Northwest Canola Association at email@example.com.
The U.S. Canola Association will host its spring annual board and membership meeting in Washington, D.C., March 10-12, 2020. The Hyatt House on The Wharf has a group rate of $249/night in effect until Feb. 10. Register for the meeting online.
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