Oregon Legislature Considering Limiting Acreage, Requiring Licenses for Canola Growers
After debates have raged for three decades, the Oregon legislature is considering a proposal that would have significant impacts for the state’s canola growers. Under Senate Bill 789, there would be a permanent 500-acre limit placed on canola in the Willamette Valley, and canola growers in the state would be required to be licensed by the Oregon Department of Agriculture.
Supporters of the bill state that canola is a threat to Oregon’s specialty seed industry, largely devoted to brassicas like broccoli, kale, and cabbage seed - all crops that can cross-pollinate with canola, putting them at risk of pests, diseases, and weeds.
And because the region is one of the few in the world where brassica seeds can be grown - providing 90 percent of the global supply of some brassica seed varieties - specialty seed companies from as far away as Japan and the Netherlands have testified in support of the bill.
Opponents of the bill, however, contend that both industries can co-exist, adding that canola is an invaluable rotation crop, boosting soil health, biodiversity, and weed control in subsequent grass seed crops.
It is also opposed by some of the state’s largest natural resource industry groups, including Oregonians for Food & Shelter, Oregon Wheat Growers League, Oregon Cattlemen’s Association, and the Oregon Dairy Farmers Association.