Canola Quick Bytes
A supplement to U.S. Canola Digest
On May 19, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a final rule about payments to farmers under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), which includes eligibility for canola. CFAP will provide financial assistance to producers of agricultural commodities who had a 5 percent or greater price decline or who had losses from supply chain disruptions due to COVID-19. For row crop producers, payments will be based on inventory subject to price risk as of Jan. 15, 2020, amounting to 50 percent of a producer’s 2019 total production or the 2019 inventory as of Jan. 15, whichever is smaller, multiplied by the commodity’s applicable payment rate. For canola, this is one cent per hundred weight under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and USDA Commodity Credit Corporation funding pots. To ensure availability of funding throughout the application period, producers will receive 80 percent of their maximum total payment upon approval of their application. The remaining portion of the payment, not to exceed the payment limit, will be paid later. USDA Farm Service Agency offices began accepting applications on May 26.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced on May 15 a final rule modernizing USDA biotechnology regulations under the Plant Protection Act. Known as Sustainable, Ecological, Consistent, Uniform, Responsible, Efficient (SECURE), the rule promotes biotechnology research and development while ensuring the introduction of new and novel organisms will not present plant pest risks to U.S. agriculture. The USDA’s previous regulations focused on plants derived from genetic engineering and required a lengthy deregulation process even for plants that did not pose increased pest risk. The final rule puts in place a process to identify plants subject to regulation, focusing on their properties rather than method of production. So gene-edited plants that could otherwise be produced through conventional breeding will be exempt from regulation. The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service will evaluate biotech plants for pest risk under a new regulatory status review and the new rule’s provisions will become effective over the next 18 months.
The USDA’s Risk Management Agency published rulemaking changes to canola and rapeseed crop insurance provisions. The changes are effective immediately, but the agency is accepting comments through July 27, 2020 and may update rules accordingly. The first closing date for the 2021 crop year sales for canola and rapeseed insurance program is Aug. 31, 2020.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sent 2021 biofuel blending requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) to the White House for review, while oil refiners press the agency to revise the rule governing this year’s mandate. The EPA has not indicated whether it will reexamine this year’s rule or apply a January court ruling that voided three companies’ small refinery exemptions from RFS mandates to all fuel makers nationwide. The steep drop in gasoline demand has hurt both petroleum and biofuel industries, which have pressed political supporters for help. Governors of five oil-producing states asked President Trump to issue a waiver from the program for struggling refiners and a bipartisan group of 26 senators sent a letter asking Trump to reject that request.
In response to requests from the U.S. Canola Association (USCA) and Pacific Northwest Canola Association (PNWCA) to include Idaho canola acreage in its reports, the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) cited prohibitive costs. PNWCA Executive Director Karen Sowers requested an estimate for an external project agreement with the NASS to fund the costs of collecting data and publishing estimates for Idaho canola acreage. The NASS came back with an estimated $32,100 to $38,100, which the associations cannot absorb. The USCA will continue to encourage the NASS to add Idaho reporting to its operating budget for the 2021 crop year.
In May, American Farmland Trust released “Farms Under Threat: The State of the States” ineractive website, which says 11 million acres of agricultural land were lost between 2001 and 2016. It shows the location and quality of each state’s agricultural land. Additionally, an “Agricultural Land Protection Scorecard” was created for each state to evaluate their policies and programs for protecting and retaining agricultural land.
Which cooking oil is best? According to NDTV Food (India), canola oil is “good for heart health” because it’s low in saturated fat. It’s also great for cooking because it’s super versatile with a light flavor, high smoke point and smooth texture. As a result, canola oil is great for sautéing, frying and baking.
Other Country News
In early April, the Mexican Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) denied import permits for multiple shipments of pesticide products approved for use in Mexico, citing the Precautionary Principle as justification. In May, the head of SEMARNAT, Minister Victor Toledo, doubled down on this alarming new policy direction by authoring an editorial that attacks modern production agriculture at large, suggesting it is responsible for pandemic diseases. Given Mexico’s importance as a trade partner and market for U.S. agricultural goods, this positioning is deeply concerning. The USCA signed onto a letter to President Trump and relevant cabinet members requesting intervention with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to resolve this issue.
The U.S. Department of Commerce (DoC) issued its final decision on reviews of antidumping and countervailing duties imposed on Argentine biodiesel producers. In spite of Argentina’s claim in November 2018, the DoC found no “changed circumstances,” therefore, the duty rates on biodiesel imports from Argentina will remain at their current levels of 132.72 to 157.86 percent. In January 2018, following a lengthy investigation that found U.S. biodiesel producers were harmed by unfair trade practices, the DoC imposed duties on Argentine biodiesel imports.
A judge ruled that extradition proceedings against Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer, may continue from Canada to the United States, crushing hopes of any canola trade between China and Canada now. This ruling comes weeks after China signaled it would ease restrictions on imports of Canadian canola seed. This trade block caused an estimated CDN$1 billion ($730 million) in lost revenue in 2019.
Latest Industry News
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced it has extended hours of service exemptions until June 14. This second extension addresses national emergency conditions requiring immediate transportation of essential supplies, equipment and people. Carriers and drivers hauling freight, including raw materials, which support COVID-19 recovery efforts have been granted emergency relief from federal motor carrier regulations, which includes hours of service.
On May 4, the USDA announced up to $100 million, including $14 million specifically for biomass-based diesel, in competitive grants for activities designed to expand renewable fuels through the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program. It aims to encourage higher blends by sharing costs related to building biofuel infrastructures. The grants will match up to 50 percent of eligible costs or $5 million, whichever is lower.
The National Biodiesel Board announced its annual member meeting will be online June 22-24, including “virtual” meetings with Congressional staff.
About the USCA
On May 5, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) approved continuation of canola research grants in the Northern Plains, Great Plains and Pacific Northwest for an additional year upon submission of updated proposals. This was what the USCA requested in a March 11 letter to NIFA Administrator Scott Angle.
The USCA submitted comments to the EPA May 4 in support of continued registration of neonicotinoids, including imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam. The EPA is required to review the registrations of pesticides every 15 years under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act.
On May 11, the USCA, among 38 agricultural groups, sent a letter to Congressional Appropriations Committee leaders asking for $1 billion in additional funding for the government to purchase U.S. agriculture commodities for international food aid programs.
The USCA and 13 industry stakeholders sent a letter to the EPA on May 27 urging approval of a petition for canola as a feedstock for renewable diesel. The EPA was asked to include this approval in the first available vehicle for Renewable Fuel Standard rulemaking.
The June USCA Blog discusses the need for global food security amidst the coronavirus crisis. CropLife International CEO Giulia Di Tommaso details the importance of short-term solutions such as trade and open borders to ensure farmers have necessary crop inputs and long-term solutions for farmers in developing countries. Tommaso also highlights the importance of maintaining food supplies and protecting working farmers throughout the pandemic.
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