Canola is the perfect habitat for honey bees and farmers should be incented to plant it to improve bee health, notes USCA Assistant Director Dale Thorenson in the latest blog on UScanola.com. He discusses why the health of American honey bees has declined in recent years and how farm groups can help. The USCA has been in negotiations with Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), the National Sunflower Association and American Honey Producers Association to incentivize canola and sunflower acreage, which would provide more honey bee habitat. Last month, Hietkamp urged the Natural Resources Conservation Service to create such an incentive administratively.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is currently accepting comments on a Nuseed Americas Inc. petition to deregulate canola genetically engineered for an altered oil profile. U.S. Canola Association (USCA) President Rob Rynning submitted a letter to John Turner, director of APHIS’s Environmental Risk Analysis Programs warning against deregulation. “The canola industry has a responsibility to maintain a robust science-based regulatory approval process,” he wrote. “Without it, there would be severe consequences for the canola industry around the world.” Rynning also notes that the current petition would negatively impact the entire canola market as a result of a lack of stewardship and Good Laboratory Practices.
Applications are now being accepted for the USDA’s Supplemental and Alternative Crops Competitive Grants Program, which supports the development of canola as a viable alternative crop. About half of the applicants receive some money, but don’t wait too long: the deadline to apply is April 18.
NPR detailed how destructive global warming can be for canola crops as record high temperatures become the norm. Reporter Angus Chen cited a recent study that found a genetic deficiency in canola crops that causes pod shattering, rendering the plant useless. Canola farmers lose about 15-20 percent of their yield as a result of pod shattering, but more extreme weather threatens to make that statistic much higher. However, researchers say they intend to study the gene that causes pod-shattering so they can figure out how to stop it. This will be necessary as temperatures continue to be unpredictable.
The New York Times debunked the idea that all cooking oils are created equally. Health columnist Jane Brody unearthed data from the American Heart Association that found when poly- and monounsaturated fats replace saturated fats (like coconut oil), people have much higher health outcomes like reduced risk of heart attack, dementia and cancer. Which cooking oil should you incorporate into your diet? Canola oil, says Brody.
Fast food seafood restaurant Long John Silver is no stranger to a busy Lent season, with many people opting for seafood over red meat and Catholics eschewing meat completely on Fridays. To usher in their busiest season, Long John Silver CEO James O’Reilly is offering not just more seafood options, but healthier options. He told Seafood Source that in addition to introducing wild Alaskan salmon and grilled shrimp meals, they’ve started using 100 percent high-oleic canola oil in every fryer – a move he said “improved the taste of our products.
February was National Heart Health Month and CanolaInfo gave readers five reasons why canola oil can enhance heart health year-round: 1) it can reduce the risk of heart disease when used in place of saturated fat; 2) the American Heart Association has several heart-healthy recipes featuring canola oil; 3) the oil is full of good fats needed in a healthy diet like plant-based omega-3 fat; 4) recent research finds that canola oil can help decrease belly fat; and 5) the oil’s neutral taste helps spices and herbs stand out in any recipe, making it easy to cook with.
The Canadian government named Protein Industries Canada (PIC) as one of five supercluster hubs that will share $950 million amongst each other to “foster innovation and job growth.” PIC is an alliance of more than 120 private sector stakeholders committed to developing plant-based proteins like canola. Canola Council of Canada President Jim Everson attended the announcement in Ottawa and said the award will create “exciting opportunities … for Canadian agriculture and our nation’s economy.”
Canola farmers in Australia and New Zealand will soon have access to Nuseed’s canola variety after the two governments greenlit it for use in human, animal and fish foods. The variety is the first plant-based source of long-chain omega-3 fat in the world. Nuseed canola will initially be used in fish feed then expand into human food uses. Agricultural associations in the two countries praised the move as a step forward for humans and wildlife. “It is exciting to think we could be harvesting omega-3 on our farms and helping to make aquaculture more sustainable while not depleting wild fish stocks,” said John Snooke, spokesperson with the Pastoralists and Graziers Association.
Cargill isn’t stopping with just the lowest saturated fat high-oleic canola oil it introduced in January 2018. The company announced it is now teaming up with Precision BioSciences for research on how to continually reduce saturated fat in canola oils. “The partnership demonstrates our ongoing commitment to developing nutritious products for consumers, with the superior performance and sensory attributes that our customers have come to expect from Cargill’s edible oils portfolio,” said Lorin Debonte, assistant vice president of R&D.
NuSeed announced in February 2018 that Van Ripley will take over as the lead for North American canola research and development as the company continues to expand around the world. Prior to his appointment at NuSeed, Ripley was the global breeding leader for canola and the healthy oils program at Dow AgroSciences.
Mark your calendars: Kansas State University Research and Extension is hosting an informational meeting on March 6 for all central Kansas-based agriculture producers interested in canola. The meeting will highlight different canola varieties and harvesting methods. Mike Stamm, a canola breeder at Kansas State, says he hopes the meetings will “draw interest from surrounding counties as we feel canola can provide benefits in crop rotation here in central Kansas,” he told the High Plains Journal.
The USCA held its annual board and membership meeting Feb. 12-14 in Washington, D.C. Members advocated for $1 million in funding for the FY2019 National Canola Research Program, noting the increasing demand for healthy canola oil, lack of self-sustainability in U.S. canola production and canola crops as an outstanding nutrition source for honey bees. They also called on members of Congress for a conservation incentive to include canola in cropping rotations to provide habitat for honey bees and wild pollinators; passage of a multi-year extension of the biodiesel tax credit and increase in biodiesel volumes under the Renewable Fuel Standard; continuation of the North American Free Trade Agreement; passage of a transportation infrastructure improvement initiative; and measures in the 2018 Farm Bill. The latter includes equitable treatment of canola if there are changes to Title I reference or floor prices; crop insurance as it stands; $2 million in funding each year from 2019 to 2023 for the Supplemental and Alternative Crops Competitive Grant Program; and reauthorization and funding for the Bio-
based Market Program, Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels and Biodiesel Education Program.
On Feb. 13, the USCA hosted its 14th annual “Canola on Capitol Hill” reception at the United States Botanic Garden, featuring “We Love Honey Bees” as the theme along with the Honey Bee Health Coalition and American Honey Producers Association as co-hosts. In attendance were about 200 Congressional staffers focused on agriculture, who learned about the interdependency of canola and honey bees as well as why canola oil is such a hot cooking oil in terms of health and versatility. Ted McKinney, Under Secretary of Agriculture for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs, and Jerry Hayes, honey bee health lead at Monsanto, spoke at the event about NAFTA and canola as an ideal habitat for honey bees, respectively.
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