Articles for May 2019

Canola Growers Meet With USDA

Yesterday, Pat Murphy, President of the Northern Canola Growers Association (NCGA) & US Canola Association, as well as Barry Coleman, Executive Director, NCGA, along with representatives from the  National Barley Growers Association, National Sunflower Association, US Dry Bean Council, and USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council came to Washington, DC to meet with senior U.S. Department of Agriculture officials to reiterate that these crops have experienced price declines as a result of the retaliatory trade tariffs and should be included in the trade aid calculations at a value that accurately reflects the loss, even though these crops did not have direct tariffs imposed by China. The group met with USDA Deputy Secretary Steve Censky, Under Secretary for Farm production and Conservation Bill Northey, and USDA Chief Economist Rob Johansson. 

Deputy Secretary Censky opened the meeting with an acknowledgement that the Market Facilitation Program (MFP) is a blunt and imperfect instrument.  The groups each presented data and information demonstrating the correlation between prices of their commodities with those such as soybeans and wheat that have had tariffs directly imposed.  USDA was urged to ensure that the loss values attributed to barley, canola, dry beans, peas and lentils is accurately calculated so that producers in counties where those crops are grown are not unfairly penalized.  USDA indicated that the MFP is in the rulemaking process and therefore they could not disclose or discuss the specific numbers they are considering.

The proposed rules are currently at the Office of Management & Budget (OMB) for review.  Under Secretary Northey indicated that USDA did not expect to have a second round of the MFP, but that changed when negotiations with China broke down.  He acknowledged the outcome won’t be perfect between commodities and won’t fully offset the losses, but is better than doing nothing. Chief Economist Johansson indicated that they have looked at the 2018 MFP to determine what worked and what didn’t and the concerns that were voiced over the methodology used.  He said there were “a lot of needles to try and thread”.  USDA indicated that more details would be provided in the coming weeks.

Following the meeting at USDA, the group also met with majority and minority committee staff for the Senate and House Agriculture Committees. These were information sharing meetings. The committees have not been directly involved in the development of the MFP methodology or decisions. The committee staff recognized and agreed with the perspectives and concerns we raised.  The committees will be closely reviewing USDA’s proposed methodology and calculations when that information is provided.

Left to Right; Dwight Little, Pres. Nat’l Barley Growers Assoc; Scott Brown, Chairman, Idaho Barley Comm; John Sandbakken, Exec. Dir. Nat’l Sunflower Assoc; Pat Murphy, Pres. U.S. Canola Assoc; Barry Coleman, Exec. Dir. Northern Canola Growers Assoc; Steve Censky, USDA Deputy Secretary; Beau Anderson, Pres. USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council; Tim McGreevy, CEO, USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council; Joe Cramer, Exec. Dir. Michigan Bean Comm; Bill Northey, USDA Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation, Clint Stoutenburg, Vice-Chairman, MI Bean Comm; Dr. Robert Johansson, USDA Chief Economist

Canola Growers To Be Included in New Ag Trade Package

The NCGA just received confirmation that canola will be included in the recently announced Ag trade Package from USDA. Other crops left out in last year’s payments will also be included.  Payments will be based on a single county rate multiplied by a farm’s total plantings to those crops in aggregate in 2019. Per acre payments are not dependent on which crops are planted in 2019, and therefore will not distort planting decisions.  Total payment-eligible plantings cannot exceed total 2018 plantings.

Payments will be made in up to three tranches, with the second and third tranches evaluated as market conditions and trade opportunities dictate. The first tranche will begin in late July/early August as soon as practical after Farm Service Agency crop reporting is completed by July 15th. If conditions warrant, the second and third tranches will be made in November and early January.

Further details on the payments will be provided this afternoon.

Canola Growers Call To Action

Canola growers are encouraged to make your voice heard by calling your congressional offices and pleading that USDA include canola in the recently announced ag trade package:

Senator Hoeven –202-224-2551     Minot Office – 701-838-1361

Senator Cramer – 202-224-2043     Minot Office – 701-837-6141

Representative Armstrong – 202-225-2611

NCGA Request to USDA

May 14, 2019

Dear Secretary Perdue:

The Northern Canola Growers Association wishes to express its concern that canola be included as an eligible commodity under the recently announced aid package for farmers.  Canola growers have suffered tremendous market losses as a direct result of the trade dispute with China and canola oil has now been slapped with a retaliatory tariff into China.  These market losses are negatively impacting canola growers and influencing planting decisions.

The attached chart shows how canola prices have dropped right along with soybeans.  In fact, canola prices have dropped even harder than soybeans recently due to the ban on canola imports from Canada into China due to the arrest of the Huawei executive.  This will result in ending stocks of canola nearly doubling this crop season, further dampening prices.

In North Dakota, which produced over 80 percent of the U.S. canola crop, the cash price at the ADM Velva crushing plant for canola has dropped from $17.78 on June 15, 2018 to $15.00 as of today, a decline of 16 percent. 

Using the 2018 national average yield of 1,861 pounds/acre, U.S. canola producers are facing an average loss of $51.74 per acre, equal to almost $103 million in lost revenue when applied to the 1.99 million acres of canola planted in 2018.

We therefore request that canola be included in the announced aid package as an eligible commodity so that canola growers can recoup a portion of the lost revenue as a result of the ongoing trade dispute with China.

Thank you for your consideration of our request.


Barry Coleman

Executive Director

CC: Deputy Secretary Steve Censky

        Under Secretary Ted McKinney

NCGA Seeks Relief For Trade Disruptions

The Northern Canola Growers Association (NCGA) spoke at a recent meeting with Senator Hoeven, state leaders and USDA Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue to visit with producers in the state to hear concerns about trade related issues.  The NCGA highlighted two main items regarding canola: 

1) The huge price drop canola growers have experienced given the trade situation;

2)  The canola industry request to Ambassador Lighthizer that canola oil achieve the same tariff reduction into Japan as the Canadians just received in December under the CPTPP.

There was universal agreement at the meeting that many commodities are suffering right now, so when it was mentioned that the canola price drop is causing real pain, the Secretary was not surprised.  The Secretary reiterated that he did not want to give anyone any assurances that there would be another MFP payment this year.

The NCGA asked for any help canola growers can get – direct aid, MFP payments or some other assistance.  The NCGA also pointed out a letter from a frustrated member that represents a lot of frustration from canola growers on how canola prices have dropped along with soybeans since the summer of 2018 and yet no Market Facilitation Payments were provided for canola growers.  The NCGA also highlighted the recent situation with Canadian canola exports being blocked into China and the resulting projected increase in ending stocks that is depressing the forward price outlook.

The NCGA said North Dakota is the largest canola producing state in the nation and has five crush plants all located within a 150-mile radius.  It was also mentioned that the canola industry has requested that canola oil be granted the same tariff reductions as Canada just obtained under the Comprehensive & Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).  This would result in the ability of U.S. canola crush plants to sell canola oil into Japan tariff-free by 2023.

Other items of interest brought up at the meeting included:

  • The Secretary said even though huge commitments to buy U.S. commodities have been made by China, we still don’t know the timeline of those purchases.
  • He was optimistic a trade deal could happen quickly with Japan.
  • Several groups appealed for direct aid at the meeting.

Flea Beetles in Canola Emerging

Flea beetles, mainly striped flea beetle, Phyllotreta striolata (Fabricius), are being captured in pheromone traps by Lesley Lubenow at the Langdon REC.

Flea beetles, mainly striped flea beetle, Phyllotreta striolata (Fabricius), are being captured in pheromone traps by Lesley Lubenow at the Langdon REC. The striped flea beetle is small, 1/32 to ⅛ in. in length, with two yellow stripes on their black wing covers (Figure 1). They emerge earlier than the more common crucifer flea beetle, Phyllotreta cruciferae Goeze. Crucifer flea beetles are black beetles with an iridescent blue sheen on the wing covers. Flea beetles have enlarged hind femora (thighs) on their hind legs which they use to jump quickly when disturbed. Their name, flea beetle, arose from this behavior.

Phyllotreta flea beetles have a single generation in the northern Great Plains. They overwinter as adults in the leaf litter of shelterbelts or grassy areas and rarely overwinter in canola stubble. Beetles emerge when temperatures warm up to 57 to 59°F in early spring. Flea beetles feed on volunteer canola and weeds, such as wild mustard, before moving to spring planted canola fields. Depending on the temperature, it may take up to three weeks for adults to leave their overwintering sites. Warm, dry, and calm weather promotes flea beetle flight and feeding activity throughout the field, while simultaneously slowing canola growth. When weather conditions are cool, wet, and windy, flea beetles may creep slowly into the field and concentrate feeding on the field edges.