Canola Comment period ends Friday, January 25th at 5pm
A public hearing on the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s latest rule proposal is scheduled for 9:00 a.m., Wednesday, January 23, 2013, Cascade Hall at the Oregon State Fairgrounds in Salem. The comment period closes on Friday, January 25, 2013 at 5 pm.
Written comments can be mailed to: Canola Hearings Officer, Department of Agriculture, 635 Capitol Street NE, Salem, OR 97301 or sent via email to: email@example.com.
Tell ODA what you think about their new proposal to allow canola production in the ‘protected district’ of the Willamette Valley then flex your citizen muscles and raise the issue with your legislator.
Whether writing or making public comment, please be sure to share your name, location and your position regarding canola. Tell them whether you are a farmer, gardener or a concerned citizen. As a farmer relevant information to include is how Canola/rapeseed could harm you crop breeding program, your ability to save seed, how it could increase your business costs and generally why Canola/rapeseed could harm your business. As a consumer share your concerns about canola’s potential harm to our local food system and about how canola-created pest problems could harm your food supply and your commitment to standing by your farmers. If you have any questions or need assistance, don’t hesitate to contact FoFF’s Field Director, Leah.
Specific Issues to touch on could include:
- Canola is a very promiscuous plant that readily cross-pollinates with many other Brassicas. Wind and bees carry canola pollen up to 5 miles from plantings. (1)
- Seed lots in the Willamette Valleyʼs thriving specialty seed industry will be rejected if more than 1 in 1000 seeds is out-crossed. (1)
- Canola is known for dispersing large amounts of seed before and during harvest (3).
- “Even if all volunteer canola is controlled before it produces seed in the first year following canola, seedlings will continue to emerge for many years from dormant seed.” (2)
- These canola weeds will emerge up to 10 years after planting and are very difficult to control, especially since most canola is engineered to be resistant to commonly-used herbicides. (2)
- The seeds are carried far and wide by water, animals, and transportation vehicles. Thus, “[d]etecting and eliminating volunteers from a 2-kilometer radius around a seed field would be onerous and perhaps impossible.” (4)
Pests & Disease:
- Canola is a host to four serious plant diseases and two serious insect pests, which cause serious harm to Brassica vegetable crops for seed and fresh market. Cabbage maggot (a crown- and root-infesting larvae) and white mold (a stem-rotting fungus) are the primary concerns. (1)
Threats to Existing Agricultural Industries:
These industries stand to lose big if canola is planted in the Willamette Valley. Note: Unlike canola, these industries are not subsidized.
Vegetable Seed Producers: Industry gross: $50 million/year, Growers net $500-$1500/Acre
- Oregonʼs Willamette Valley is one of the five remaining regions in the world where vegetable seed can be commercially grown.It produces over 90% of the worldʼs European cabbage, Brussels sprouts, rutabaga and turnip seed. (1)
- Seed purity is of utmost concern for this industry, unlike canola. Seed lots are rejected if 1 in 1000 seeds is not genetically pure. (1)
- Tests of genetic purity average $300 per seed lot.
- “Because of the potential for contamination, some specialty seed customers have threatened to pull all seed contracts, not just Brassica, from Western Oregon if canola production is allowed.” (1)
- “The influx of canola in Europe drove vegetable seed contractors out of parts of Europe, vegetable seed producers say, and threatens to do the same in the valley.” (5)
Fresh Vegetable Producers: Industry gross: $30 million/year
- This industry would lose crops to disease and insect pests if canola were introduced.
- Organic growers are particularly vulnerable to pests and disease, since they can only use OMRI certified pesticides and herbicides.
- Organic seed growers cannot sell seeds that are in any way genetically engineered (GE). Almost all canola is GE, so seed from crosses between canola and organic vegetables could not be sold in accordance with organic standards.
Clover Producers: Industry gross: $33 million/year
- Oregon produces 95% of all crimson clover seed and 70% of all red clover seed grown in the US. (6)
- Because canola seed is nearly identical in size and weight to clover seed, it is almost impossible to sort out canola weed seeds. This contamination can render an entire seed lot worthless