Canola Quick Bytes

A supplement to U.S. Canola Digest


Capitol Hill

President Joe Biden released his budget request for FY 2022, which proposes $27.8 billion for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). If approved by Congress, it would be a $3.8 billion or 16 percent increase over the existing budget. Highlights include:

  • $717 million for rural water infrastructure, up $100 million from current levels
  • $1.7 billion to improve forestry resilience against wildfires, a $476 million increase
  • $4 billion for USDA research programs, including carbon sequestration
  • $6.7 billion for nutrition programs such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), an increase of more than $1 billion
  • $65 million increase for the Rural e-Connectivity Program “Reconnect,” which provides grants and loans to deploy broadband to unserved areas

The USDA will open enrollment for its Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), which will offer higher payment rates, new incentives and more focus on climate change mitigation. Additionally, the USDA announced investments in partnerships to increase climate-smart agriculture, including $330 million in 85 projects under the Regional Conservation Partnership Program and $25 million for On-Farm Conservation Innovation Trials. Currently, 20.8 million acres are enrolled in the CRP but the USDA’s goal is to enroll a total of 25 million acres in 2021 and 27 million by 2023 with the following incentives:

  • Adjusted soil rental rates, including a possible increase in rates where appropriate
  • Increased payments for practice incentives from 20 to 50 percent based on the cost of establishment in addition to cost-share payments
  • Higher payments for water quality practices, increasing rates from 10 to 20 percent with continuous CRP sign-up for items such as grassed waterways, riparian buffers and filter strips
  • Grassland minimum rental rate for more than 1,300 counties with rates currently below the minimum

The Senate Agriculture Committee passed the Growing Climate Solutions Act, a bipartisan bill that proposes to remove barriers for farmers and foresters to participate in carbon markets. Its objectives are to encourage sustainable practices by making private capital accessible, facilitating carbon market programs and providing technical assistance to participants. The proposed legislation would also establish an advisory council to address such assistance as well as a third-party certification program, which would assist the Secretary of Agriculture in establishing standards of operation for voluntary carbon markets. The bill has broad bipartisan support from 42 senators and 70+ agricultural and environmental organizations.

The USDA is expected to end the Farmers to Families Food Box Program, which was created in 2020 at the height of the coronavirus pandemic to help producers and food banks feed Americans in need. This was largely because the supply chain was interrupted and food was going to waste. The Biden Administration has decided to discontinue the program after this May despite pushback from farmers.

President Biden announced the nomination of Robert Bonnie to serve as the USDA’s Undersecretary of Farm Production and Conservation, overseeing the Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service and Risk Management Agency. Bonnie led the Biden transition team’s work at the USDA and stayed on as deputy chief of staff for policy and senior adviser to Secretary Vilsack on climate issues. He has been closely involved in discussions on setting up a USDA carbon bank to help pay farmers, ranchers and foresters for capturing and storing carbon on their lands.

The U.S. Canola Association (USCA) signed a letter to House and Senate leaders drafted by the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities requesting $11.5 billion for essential renovations and upgrades at agricultural research facilities.

Agronomy

Keep canola crops clean this year in early growth stages with a weeding plan. Weed scientist  Charles Geddes, Ph.D., says the best way to manage weeds is by scouting multiple times a year, not just early in the season. This means growers should think about last year’s conditions before planting. Another important consideration is moisture level from precipitation.

BeSure! is back with its third annual national campaign to promote best pesticide management practices to protect pollinators and other wildlife. Growers and applicators can BeSure! they’re using neonicotinoid seed treatments, foliar sprays, soil drenches and granules safely by following simple guidelines.

Nutrition & Health

Omega-3 fat found naturally in canola oil, alpha-linolenic acid, has anti-inflammatory properties and thereby, health benefits. This fat and its “cousins” EPA and DHA help athletes with muscular endurance and recovery, relaxing blood vessels. However, everyone can benefit from incorporating these fats and canola oil into their diet!

A new study suggests that biodiesel use results in a multitude of community health benefits, including decreased cancer risk, fewer premature deaths and reduced asthma attacks. The study, sponsored by the National Biodiesel Board with support from several agricultural groups, used air dispersion modeling tools, health risk assessments and benefit valuations to assess public health benefits and resulting economic savings of converting from petroleum-based diesel to 100 percent biodiesel (B100) in 13 U.S. locations exposed to high rates of petroleum pollution. It calculated 46,000 fewer lost workdays and $3 billion in avoided health care costs in the study communities alone.

Other Country News

As some European Union countries put restrictions on biofuel feedstocks, canola oil stands to benefit from exemption. France has already blocked palm oil-based biofuel from its government programs and several other EU members will follow suit, limiting the competition for canola oil-based biofuel. Plus, canola oil “contains far more oil than competing crops and is already the preferred feedstock for the EU biofuel industry,” according to The Western Producer. Indonesia is currently challenging the ban via the World Trade Organization but it is unclear if anything will come of it.

Australian producers plan to increase canola production by 15 percent this year to 6.7 million acres. This will compensate for a recent two-year drought in eastern Australia. Jim Everson of the Canola Council of Canada does not think the size of the country-continent’s crop will influence whether China lifts its import restrictions on Canadian canola in 2021-22.

Health Canada is proposing regulatory guidance for novel plant-based food products, including those produced by gene editing. A consultation period runs until May 24, 2021 and stakeholders are welcome to provide input.

A farmer in China, Shen Changjian, received a national patent for a rapeseed variety he developed in 2004, despite having no scientific education. His hybrid rapeseed No. 1 has double the yield of ordinary crops and was registered in 2020 at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs. This made Changjian the first farmer in China to receive national recognition for a new rapeseed variety. He has helped many residents in his town grow it and employs over 1,000 people to help him do so.

Latest Industry News

Due to an increased demand in soybeans, canola prices are expected to rise this year, according to AgWeek. Soybean prices historically influence what canola farmers receive for their crop. Prices are also expected to rise due to “depleted Canadian canola stocks and high demand for oilseed products in China,” according to the USDA.

Three canola crush plants have been recently announced by Viterra, Cargill and Richardson in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, which will add 4.5 million tons of capacity. Viterra’s will be the largest, with an annual crush capacity of 2.5 million metric tons. All three plants should be completed by 2024.

Montana growers will receive a ballot proposing a 0.05% check-off for oilseeds, including canola. This check-off will fund research, market development and education about state oilseeds. Assessments will be voluntary, but growers can request refunds by submitting a written request to the Montana Department of Agriculture.

Burcon, a global technology leader, produced its first commercial Puratein® canola protein in collaboration with Merit Foods. Johann Tergesen, Burcon’s president and CEO, says that “this milestone is a significant step toward fulfilling canola’s enormous global potential as an important, new, environmentally friendly source of high-quality, plant-based protein for food and beverage product development.”

The Canadian company Parkland is using canola oil for co-processing biofuel. It combines canola oil and animal fat with crude oil to produce a commercial fuel. Parkland purchases canola oil from crushing plants across the Western Prairies. A Clean Fuel Standard will soon be in place in Canada, resulting in more renewable fuels.

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