Friday, March 8, 2013

The fight over canola is far from over

In late January I blogged about the ongoing fight by the small farm community to keep canola out of the Willamette Valley and the danger the plant, also known as rapeseed, poses to the area’s thriving specialty seed industry. At the time, the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) was taking public testimony on the issue before finalizing a rule change that would have allowed canola to be planted on thousands of previously restricted acres in the valley.

Despite public opposition to the plan, on February 7 the ODA adopted a modification of the proposed administrative rule that will allow some level of canola planting in the valley. In response, the non-profit group Friends of Family Farmers (FFF) which has led the anti-canola fight and their allies are rolling up their sleeves for a new grassroots campaign in support of a new law reinstating the area-wide canola ban.

Current House Bill 2427, entitled the “Willamette Valley Canola Ban”, would block any canola planting in “Clackamas, Linn, Marion, Multnomah, Polk, Washington and Yamhill Counties and the portion of Benton and Lane Counties lying east of the summit of the Coast Range.”  FFF’s Leah Rodgers says that while legislators are voicing support for the local seed industry, many are leery of the idea of a ban and used to deferring to the experts at the ODA.