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Canola Quick Bytes

A supplement to U.S. Canola Digest


Capitol Hill

A bipartisan group of nine U.S. Senators urged the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to expedite approval of canola renewable diesel under the Renewable Fuel Standard in a June 21 letter. The effort was led by Senators Amy Klobuchar (MN) and John Hoeven (ND). Others who signed on were Senators Tina Smith (MN), Kevin Cramer (ND), Jon Tester (MT), Steve Daines (MT), Ron Wyden (OR), Jerry Moran (KS) and Roger Marshall (KS).

The Biden administration’s infrastructure package continues its roller coaster ride and currently, it’s going up. The President clarified and reiterated his commitment to a bipartisan agreement, which would total $973 billion over five years and $1.2 billion+ over 8 years, including current baseline spending levels. It would include $312 billion for transportation (of which $16 billion would go to ports and waterways), $65 billion for broadband, $73 billion for power and grid upgrades, $55 billion for water and sewage, and $5 billion for western water storage. The funding offsets to partially pay for this package include using leftover COVID-19 relief funds and revenues from spectrum auctions; they do not include any tax code changes. The package still has a lot of hurdles to clear and it remains to be seen if it will attract enough votes to pass the Senate.

While negotiations continue on a large infrastructure package, the House and Senate transportation committees are moving forward on their highway bill reauthorizations. The U.S. Canola Association (USCA) joined dozens of organizations in a letter to support the Fischer-Tester Amendment to the Surface Transportation Investment Act of 2021, which would modernize the agricultural exemption to the hours-of-service rules and provide regulatory relief for farmers, ranchers and agricultural haulers. The amendment includes bipartisan language from S. 792, the Haulers of Agriculture and Livestock Safety (HAULS) Act of 2021, to eliminate the “planting and harvesting periods” requirements to ensure uniformity within all states, provide a 150-air-mile exemption from hours-of-service regulations on the backend of hauls, and update the definition of an agricultural commodity for purposes of determining eligible freight for the exemption.

The House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee advanced on June 25 the FY2022 agriculture appropriations bill to full committee consideration. The House proposal would increase annual discretionary funding for farm, food and rural programs by more than 10 percent. The measure totals nearly $26.6 billion, an increase of about $3 billion compared to current levels. Notable funding levels include $4.4 billion for rural development, $907 million of which is for broadband deployment; $3.3 billion for agricultural research; $1.1 billion for conservation programs; and $347.4 million to address the impacts of climate change and support climate-friendly farm practices. The Senate has not yet moved on appropriations. Congress is not expected to pass a final appropriations bill before the Sept. 30 fiscal year deadline, so it will likely pass a continuing resolution until hopeful passage at year-end.

On June 24, the U.S Senate voted 92-8 to pass the Growing Climate Solutions Act, a bill intended to help facilitate farmer participation in private agriculture and forestry carbon markets. The bill is a rare example of bipartisan action on climate change-related issues. If enacted into law, it would enable USDA to create a certification program to help farmers, ranchers and foresters navigate private-sector carbon programs and sell carbon credits. The increasing number of private-sector carbon offset markets creates an opportunity for landowners to generate revenue for activities that cut emissions or pull carbon dioxide from the air into soil or trees. The legislation is backed by a broad coalition of agricultural groups, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, as well as major environmental groups like the Environmental Defense Fund and Nature Conservancy. However, the bill has been criticized by some climate change activists who prefer mandatory emissions cuts rather than offset or carbon credit trading programs and opposed by others who do not believe the government should play a role in carbon markets. The Growing Climate Solutions Act still has significant hurdles to clear before becoming law.  There is a companion bill in the House, but it has not received any action.

On June 11, the USDA announced the release of payments for agricultural producers with approved applications for the Quality Loss Adjustment program and for those who have already received payments through the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus. These programs provide disaster assistance to producers who suffered losses from 2018 and 2019 natural disasters.

The Biden administration is testing an idea for promoting cover crop adoption by offering farmers a subsidy on their crop insurance premiums. The USDA Pandemic Cover Crop Program will give farmers a one-time subsidy of up to $5 an acre. This will complement popular programs that now exist in Iowa, Illinois and Indiana. Advocates of the program hope it will prove successful and expand with long-term funding. The program includes all cover crops that are reportable to the Farm Service Agency (FSA).

Applying for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2) can be a daunting process, but a new video series from USDA provides growers with step-by-step instructions. Applicants can also work directly with FSA staff at their local USDA center.

Agronomy

What causes canola plants to turn purple? After speaking with an agronomist, a Canadian grower learned it was due to a combination of high winds, insect feeding and environmental stress. To avoid this problem in the future, he should keep his stubble a little taller. This would limit exposed ground, protect young canola plants and better maintain moisture.

Even though canola is adaptable, there are stressors that can make growing it more difficult. One is wind shear that has been in the Canadian Prairies recently. Ken Wall, grow team advisor with Federated Co-operatives Ltd., says “often what happens is you get the cotyledons sheared off at the stem, and typically the growing point is right between the two cotyledons when the plant first comes out of the ground, so if you lose that, the plant is done.” If the growing point is still intact, he adds, chances of survival are good, just consider what the growing conditions will be like for the next period.

The USDA National Agriculture Statistics Service’s June 30 acreage report pegged planted canola acres at slightly more than 2 million, up 178,000 acres or 9.8 percent from 2020. North Dakota planted 1.68 million, up 170,000 or 11.3 percent. Kansas and Oklahoma acreage stabilized at 7,000 and 13,000, respectively, up a combined 17.6 percent. Minnesota acreage increased to 58,000, up 8,000 or 16 percent. Washington planted 95,000, an increase of 2,000 or 8.3 percent, while Montana acreage declined to 150,000, down 5,000 or 3.2 percent.

Nutrition

Did you know canola oil is really good for your heart? The American Heart Association recognizes canola oil in its Heart-Check Food Certification Program because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized a qualified health claim of the oil’s ability to reduce risk of heart disease. This approval allows companies to put the Heart-Check mark on product labels so consumers can identify them as heart-healthy.

Other Country News

A surge in canola processing in Saskatchewan is expected to result in more than a 50 percent increase in Canada’s canola crush capacity, which could have major trade flow implications. In addition, Cargill, Ceres Global Ag, Richardson International and Viterra have announced plans to build new plants in Saskatchewan. This could have serious implications for U.S. canola trade with crops crossing the border into Canada.

Global Affairs Canada announced that Canada will be “proceeding with the next step of the World Trade Organization dispute-settlement process to restore full market access for canola seed exports to China.” The restrictions, which have been in place for two years, were sparked by the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, CFO of Huawei. Canada is confident its canola meets the trade standards set by China and seeks to settle the dispute.

Latest Industry News

The Minnesota Canola Council will host its 18th Annual Canola Hackers Golf Scramble on July 14. It’s $100 per four-player team or $30 per person up to 72 players. The event will feature a field day at 9:45 am at the Northern Resources Cooperative Field and the scramble at 11:30 am at the Oakcrest Golf Course in Roseau. Teams and individuals can register here but do so by July 2.

The Pacific Northwest Canola Growers Association is hosting educational events in July with opportunities for networking and learning. The association’s calendar has full details, including field days at Montana State University. Registration is appreciated but not required. Questions? Contact Karen Sowers at pnwcanola@gmail.com.

With oil prices on the rise and possibly government biofuel mandates, companies buying vegetable oils for biofuel production need to plan supply in advance. Additionally, farmers and crushers need to think about expansion to meet the growing demands of customers and compete with new biofuel standards.

About the USCA

The USCA joined the National Biodiesel Board and industry partners in a letter to Congress on policy priorities, highlighting the $17 billion annual economic impact of the biodiesel and renewable diesel industry, 65,000 jobs supported by it and carbon benefits it delivers. In 2020, the United States used 3 billion gallons of renewable diesel and biodiesel, which achieves an average 74 percent reduction in carbon emissions compared to petroleum diesel. The industry also touted a recent study demonstrating substantial reductions in health care costs and outcomes that communities can achieve by switching to biodiesel. The letter calls on Congress to support future extension of the biodiesel tax credit through 2025 and Renewable Fuel Infrastructure Investment and Market Expansion Act of 2021. It also encourages the EPA to issue annual rules in a timely manner, approve new feedstocks and pathways, and ensure science-based lifecycle scores.

The USCA submitted comments to the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service on biotechnology’s benefits to supply chain resiliency in response to the agency’s request for information on “Supply Chains for the Production of Agricultural Commodities and Food Products.” The USCA joined 11 other groups – including the Biotech Innovation Organization, American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America and Soil Science Society of America – to outline the scientific innovations, such as biotechnology, that have resulted in environmental and societal benefits and must continue to be a part of a strategy to improve the supply chain. The groups urged the USDA to maintain trade normalization efforts, both for existing technologies, as well as continuing to develop predictable, consistent international regulatory approaches for new innovations, such as gene editing.

The USCA announces Samantha Davis as the new USCA industry representative for Bayer Crop Science. She replaces Mindy Whittle, who retired. Mark Hanson, commercial manager of ADM’s plant in Velva, N.D., is the new USCA board representative for ADM. He replaces retiree Eric Mack in both positions.

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