What will be the impact of the Biden administration on agriculture and canola? Policy Expert Tom Hance explains in this month’s USCA Blog. A big focus will be trade, especially with China, the European Union, Mexico and Canada, and stabilizing agricultural markets. Also high on the agenda are infrastructure and climate change. Improving roads, bridges, rail, waterways and ports will increase competitiveness of U.S. agricultural exports. Expanding rural broadband and connectivity as well as healthcare capacity will enhance rural development. To reduce greenhouse gas emissions, widespread monetization for carbon sequestration will provide new revenue for farmers; building demand for biodiesel and renewable diesel will benefit canola oil specifically. Moreover, efforts to promote crop diversity, sustainability and emerging markets like plant-based proteins will be great opportunities for the canola industry.
Tom Vilsack, who served eight years as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture under President Barack Obama, is now slated to lead the department again under Joe Biden. Vilsack plans to boost trade and programs to combat climate change, including paying farmers to sequester carbon in soil. “We can create a whole new suite of revenue streams to protect (farm income) from the vagaries of trade,” he says.
Michael Regan, who served as secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality since 2017, has been tapped to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. He will play a big role in the new administration’s efforts to combat climate change, protect crop protection products and promote biofuels. “It will take innovation,” he says. “It will take partnership. It will take voluntary programs, all of the above, to see our way through this climate emergency and agriculture has such an important role.”
Following the inauguration of President Biden, many agricultural industry leaders echoed his call for unity to Americans. “Addressing the needs of America’s farmers, ranchers and rural communities is important, including strengthening the farm bill, expanding trade, finding a fair solution to the farm labor shortage and expanding rural broadband access,” notes Zippy Duval, president of the American Farm Bureau. National Milk Producers Federation CEO Jim Mulhern ,says his organization will engage with the broader agricultural community to “meet common challenges and build a thriving rural America.”
The National Institute of Food and Agriculture is requesting applications for its Supplemental and Alternative Crops Competitive Grants Program for FY 2021. It provides a total of $930,000 to increase the cost effectiveness and competitiveness of canola and hemp as “components of production systems across the country.” Canola grants will be awarded to three regional projects, each up to $225,000 per year for a maximum of four years. The deadline to apply is March 30, 2021.
The National Agriculture Statistics Service released its 2020 annual crop production report. It cites total planted canola at 1.825 million acres and harvested at 1.909 million acres, down 10 and 9 percent, respectively, compared to 2019. However, total production increased 1.5 percent to nearly 3.5 billion pounds. This is likely due to a record national average yield of 1,931 pounds per acre, which is up 8.4 percent from 2019.
A new Danish study suggests that a lack of vitamin K may make COVID-19 symptoms more severe if you contract the virus. The researchers found that coronavirus patients studied had half the vitamin K levels of control groups and levels were even lower in those that died. Vitamin K activates enzymes in the body that help protect the lungs. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 recommend 90 and 120 micrograms of vitamin K daily for women and men, respectively. Consuming canola oil and leafy greens can increase your vitamin K levels, helping promote pulmonary health.
February is American Heart Month, a good reason to spread the love for heart-smart canola oil! Share its ideal fat composition and find loads of recipes made with the oil at CanolaInfo.org.
According to industry experts, Mexico’s plan to phase out importation of biotech corn would greatly disrupt its food supply. The country currently doesn’t allow growing commercial biotech corn, but it imports millions of tons of it from the U.S. for livestock and other industries. Nearly all corn from major producing countries is genetically modified, making it difficult for Mexico to replace these imports. Moreover, Mexico is looking to ban the herbicide glyphosate, which thousands of its farmers rely upon to control weeds.
The Canola Council of Canada held a virtual mission to build relations with South Korean canola customers. It discussed canola processing and new oil applications among other potential benefits. South Korea is one of the largest importers of Canadian canola thanks to the Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement, which leveled the playing field for canola with other oilseeds.
China is still hindering imports of Canadian canola. Seed shipments were blocked in 2019 and in March 2020, China agreed to allow them provided dockage levels were lower than 1 percent – a high, unnecessary bar that further crushed the market. In 2018, Canada exported about 4.9 million metric tons of canola seed to China and in 2019 only 1.5 million. The Canadian government is engaging with Chinese officials to try to resolve this issue.
Several state departments of agriculture are pushing for farmers and food processors to be next in line for the COVID-19 vaccine. They can be considered frontline workers because they maintain our food supply. The Illinois Department of Agriculture pointed to how COVID-19 can affect the supply chain with outbreaks in meat processing plants.
The Pacific Northwest Canola Association (PNWCA) held its annual member and board meeting Jan. 27, onboarding three new producer-directors from Montana, Oregon and Washington. It presented a soil health video, progress of the Montana oilseed advisory group ballot and record-setting acreage in all four PNW states. Reports of pre-sale canola seed and contracts for processing this year are also at a record high, indicating there will be another significant increase in regional acreage and production. Registration is open for the virtual 2021 PNWCA Canola Workshop Feb. 9-10.
How will the Biden administration impact agriculture and canola? Read in this month’s USCA Blog. Hot topics are trade, infrastructure, rural development, climate change, sustainability and plant-based proteins – all of which promise to make 2021 a great year for canola farmers.
All canola growers are invited to join the USCA in its new Grow Canola campaign by sharing quotes, photos and videos related to the crop. Interested? Please contact USCA Director of Communications Angela Dansby at email@example.com.
The USCA is now on Tik Tok @uscanola! Growers are invited to tag us in #canola videos there. Check out our first post: tiktok.com/@uscanola. Get social with us as well on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
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