Canola Quick Bytes
A supplement to U.S. Canola Digest
A tax package passed by the Senate just before adjourning in December will result in an estimated $1.4 billion in tax savings for the U.S. agricultural sector for the 2014 tax year. The legislation extended tax breaks for businesses through Dec. 31, 2014, including the extension of bonus depreciation, increased expensing limitations and treatment of certain real property as section 179 property. Also included in the package is the extension of the $1 per gallon tax credit for biodiesel and renewable diesel, which plays a significant role in keeping biodiesel production competitive in the market.
The U.S. Biotech Crops Alliance, which the U.S. Canola Association joined in 2014, wrote letters to President Obama and Congress about the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade. The group asked for the discussion to re-establish a consistent process for enabling compliance with Chinese laws and regulations regarding biotech products. With such a process in place, U.S. agriculture can continue to supply China’s demand for imported commodities without disrupting trade
Since the publication of his first paper about Colony Collapse Disorder, Chensheng Lu has been under scrutiny regarding the accuracy of his research, according to The Huffington Post. Lu claims that the cause of bee colony reductions are neonicotinoid pesticides, which are important to major row crops, such as corn, soy and canola, but bee experts disagree. Other causes for colony collapse have been presented with stronger evidence, such as frigid winters and the global spread of the parasitical Varroa destructor mite. Entomologists are concerned that Lu’s activist science may impact public policy.
North Dakota State University Extension crops economist Frayne Olson predicted to Farm and Ranch Guide that farmers will choose more stable crops in 2015 due to the current low grain prices. “It’s going to be a lot harder for farmers to find cash flow next year,” said Olson. “With the lower prices, it’s harder to pencil things out.” He explained that a grower’s crop choice is dependent on what’s in demand. For 2015, Olson said that means canola is something farmers may give a second look.
The Internet creates a large forum for rumors to spread, particularly about canola oil. NutritionAction.com, a publication of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, noted this in an article intended to dispel misinformation and provide helpful facts about the neutral cooking oil. Among other points, a professor of food science explained that most critics confuse canola with rapeseed.
Registered dietitian Manuel Villacorta discussed on Dec. 2 better-for-you Latin holiday desserts that use canola oil on nine Spanish radio stations in major U.S. markets. To date, the segment has been heard by about 12 million listeners! Villacorta also discussed the health benefits of canola oil on Fox News Latino’s website and promoted a CanolaInfo dessert, churros with spiked chili cocoa sugar, on his “Eating Free” blog.
On United Healthcare’s UHC TV, nutrition expert Kathleen Zelman answered questions about how canola oil is processed. She explained that canola oil is produced in a similar way to other refined vegetable oils. Canola oil production adheres to the highest safety and quality standards by several authorities around the world. In fact, Zelman noted, canola oil is one of the healthiest cooking oils available because of its low saturated fat content.
Oil Around the World
Quebec made changes in December to its Food Products Act, removing barriers to the production and sale of vegetable oil-based dairy products, according to The Leader-Post. The restriction lift, following a ruling that such barriers violated internal trade laws, now allows edible oil products to be freely sold in Quebec. “This is a welcome and overdue development for our producers,” said Saskatchewan’s Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart. “They now have more market access opportunities for the many products that use Saskatchewan edible oil ingredients, such as certain margarines, coffee whiteners and dessert toppings.”
Canadian officials spoke to the Indian government regarding the contentious issue of labeling canola oil in India, reported FnB News. Under current regulations, the Food Safety Standards Authority of India mandates that imported canola oil should instead be labeled “rapeseed oil – low-erucic acid,” a generic term. “The world over, [canola] oil is imported under [this] name, and people are more familiar with the health benefits attached with it,” noted Bruce Jowett, vice president of market development at the Canola Council of Canada.
Latest Industry News
Oral arguments for the Grocery Manufacturers Association’s lawsuit against Vermont’s upcoming biotech labeling law are tentatively scheduled for early January, according to the Burlington Free Press. The association is arguing that the law violates the U.S. Constitution by compelling manufacturers to “convey messages they do not want to convey,” among other points. The results of the lawsuit could affect implementation of other labeling laws in northeastern states. The U.S. Canola Association is a member of the Coalition for Safe Affordable Food with the Grocery Manufacturers Association and 35 other groups that are opposed to the labeling laws. They are concerned about the effects such laws could have on misconceptions of biotechnology and the agricultural economy.
Because of the countries’ regulatory differences, U.S. canola growers will have access to new non-biotech traits from Cibus Global two to four years before Canadian growers, according to The Western Producer. Under Canada’s policy, all new plant traits are subject to the same regulatory review. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, however, has determined the technology is non-transgenic, so Cibus’s new traits will not be subject to the same lengthy scrutiny as biotech crops. The first new product from Cibus is a non-biotech sulfonylurea tolerant canola, which was launched in the U.S. in November.
Gene Neuens was the inaugural winner of the Mark C. Boyles Oilseed Industry Meritorious Service Award, according to the High Plains/Midwest Ag Journal. He has spent 30 years in the agricultural cooperative industry as a general manager and business consultant. Neuens has helped create a canola market for the southern Great Plains and establish canola buying points. He also serves on the board of the U.S. Canola Association.
About the USCA
The 2015 PNW Oilseed and Direct Seed Conference will be Jan. 20-22, 2015 at Three Rivers Convention Center in Kennewick, Wash. Early registration is open until Jan. 5. The three-day event features a trade show, general and breakout sessions, research poster sessions and demos and diagnostics applicable to irrigated and dryland cropping systems throughout the Pacific Northwest.
It’s not too late to submit your entries for U.S. Canola Digest‘s “Lights, Camera, Canola!” photo contest! The deadline of Jan. 1 has been extended until Feb. 1, 2015. All photos must feature U.S. canola and be taken no earlier than the previous calendar year. E-mail your entries to Alison Neumer Lara at firstname.lastname@example.org and check our contest rules for other specifics.