The harmful risk of unregulated oilseed canola production in the Willamette Valley is once again facing Oregon farmers and food consumers. Current rules that cap annual canola production at 500 acres in the Willamette Valley expire on July 1. Now, both the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) and the Legislature are considering new measures to address the risks from canola production to the region’s world renowned specialty seed industry after July 1.
The Oregon Legislature has already passed one bill, SB 885 out of committee. This legislation would maintain the current 500 acre per year cap indefinitely. It is currently awaiting action in the Ways and Means Committee (take action below).
Meanwhile, the ODA has announced a newly proposed rule to replace current expiring canola restrictions. Unfortunately, ODA’s draft proposal simply falls short of what is necessary to protect the unique attributes of the Willamette Valley’s specialty seed industry. ODA’s proposal includes no acreage cap, doesn’t explicitly prohibit canola production in a proposed Isolation Area, doesn’t prohibit herbicide tolerant or genetically engineered canola varieties, and leaves large parts of the Willamette Valley unprotected.
Three actions you can take now to protect the Willamette Valley’s world class specialty seed industry
- Contact your State Legislators and urge them to support SB 885. Tell them that we need to maintain current restrictions on Willamette Valley canola production that expire July 1 in order to protect the region’s important specialty seed industry and the hundreds of farmers, gardeners, and food producers who depend on it.
Submit written or email comments on the ODA canola rule by June 21 at 5pm. Comments can be short and we encourage you to include the following talking points:
- ODA’s draft proposal falls short of what is necessary to protect the unique attributes of the Willamette Valley’s specialty seed industry. Tell them you oppose the draft rule because it includes no acreage cap, doesn’t prohibit canola inside the proposed Isolation Area, doesn’t prohibit herbicide tolerant or genetically engineered canola varieties, and leaves many Willamette Valley farmers unprotected from the risks associated with canola.
- ODA’s final rule should include: an acreage cap not to exceed 500 acres per year inside the Willamette Valley Protected District; a clear prohibition on canola production inside the proposed Isolation Area; a larger Isolation Area where no production of canola would be allowed; clear protections for seed farmers outside the proposed Isolation Area; and, a clear prohibition on growing herbicide tolerant or genetically engineered varieties of canola.
- All comments on the canola rule must be received by 5pm, June 21 via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to: Sunny Summers, Oregon Department of Agriculture, 635 Capitol St. NE, Salem, OR 97301.
You can find more background information on ODA’s canola (rapeseed) webpage, including a map of the proposed Willamette Valley isolation areas and protected district.
Thank you for taking action!