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Agriculture This Week: Good news for the oilseed sector

It is important to be concerned about the world of tomorrow, but we must be able to afford the world of today, and when gas is more than $2 a litre that becomes increasingly a problem for many.
Canola oil may become more important for biofuels.

YORKTON - The Canadian government has released its Clean Fuel Regulations (CFR) and not surprisingly they have been enthusiastically received by the oilseeds sector. 

The CFR provides options that would allow Canadian grown crops to be fully accepted as sustainable and compliant with land use and biodiversity criteria, explained a Canola Council of Canada (CCC) release. It also recognizes regenerative farm practices such as no-till and minimal till, contributing to canola’s low carbon intensity and feedstock of choice in biofuel production.

“We’re pleased to see the CFR provides options that would minimize regulatory burden and allow canola to be used to reduce GHG emissions through biofuel production,” says Jim Everson, president of the CCC in the release. “Recognition of the sustainable production practices of Canadian growers that help sequester and store carbon such as no-till and minimal till are critical components to support canola as the preferred biofuels feedstock to deliver GHG emission reductions for Canada.”    

It was interesting in the same CCC release it was noted there is a “growing biofuel market in Canada and strong global demand for canola in food, feed and low carbon fuel applications is also supporting value-added investments in Canada. Since 2021, approximately $2 billion of expanded canola processing capacity has been announced, creating jobs and economic opportunity.” 

“Alongside the environmental benefits, using more canola here in Canada is a key opportunity to increase value-added processing and diversify our markets, increasing value to growers and the entire industry,” says Everson in the release. 

It is interesting in the sense about the same time as the CCC release, the CFR announced a major canola crush plant for Saskatchewan was cancelled. 

A U.S. company has cancelled plans to build a $350-million US canola-crushing plant in Saskatchewan.

U.S.-based Ceres Global Ag Corp. announced a project a roughly a year ago saying it was going to build a $350-million US canola-crushing plant at Northgate, about 275 kilometres south of Regina, near the U.S. border.

The facility would have created about 50 permanent jobs and processed 1.1 million tonnes of canola annually. 

But in late June the company announced the project was off, at least for now due to inflationary pressures and shifting economic conditions.

Of course what can be positive for an industry, the CCR in this case for canola, doesn’t always translate into supportive news for individual company decisions.

Still, the CCR is seen as a positive step for renewable energy options.

Renewable Industries Canada (RICanada), for example welcomed the release of the final CFR in its own release, suggesting the document marked “a major milestone in Canada’s ongoing efforts to decarbonize transportation and combat climate change sustainably.” 

The release cited, biofuels being “an essential solution to climate change and smart climate policies that support innovation will pave the road to net zero biofuels. The CFR will be instrumental in sending a clear signal to investors that Canada is ready for more clean and more cost-effective low-carbon fuels, like ethanol and biomass-based diesel.” 

Of course at present consumers, including farmers as they plant and spray and cut hay, are not as concerned about the source of fuel, or its environmental impact, as they are at the climbing prices. 

It is important to be concerned about the world of tomorrow, but we must be able to afford the world of today, and when gas is more than $2 a litre that becomes increasingly a problem for many. If biofuels can reduce that cost, great, but if not the consumer will not see it as overly positive news.