Oregon Department of Agriculture officials have refined the boundaries of an existing control area in the Willamette Valley to allow canola to be grown in specific locations, while protecting specialty seed crop production.
Through a temporary administrative rule, ODA is attempting to balance the interests of both canola and specialty seed producers, recognizing that both interests need considerations. The new boundaries became effective in mid-August.
"We are adopting a temporary rule to allow Willamette Valley growers to make important planting decisions … as requested by both specialty seed and canola growers," says ODA Director Katy Coba.
"In the meantime, ODA is simultaneously filing for permanent rulemaking that will allow for public input and possible future revisions. It is our intention to have a permanent rule in place by the time the temporary rule expires in 180 days (from Aug. 10)"
ODA's statutory authority to create control areas is based on protecting the farming industry from plant diseases, insects, animals or noxious weeds that may become a menace. ODA authority for control areas does not extend to protecting agriculture from market-based threats or concerns.
Under the rule, the Willamette Valley is designated as a protected district, while includes the entire counties of Lane, Linn, Benton, Marion, Polk, Clackamas, Yamhill, Washington, Multnomah and portions of Columbia County.
The protected district has two zones. One is a fully protected zone that prohibits canola planting and protects 84% of the amount of Oregon's specialty seed production over the past three years.
A second zone allows canola, but requires that all canola and specialty seed producers use an electronic pinning system (as in pins on a map) to provide information on what they intend to grow and where they intend to plant.
"This second zone focuses on coexistence of specialty seed growers and canola growers," says Coba. "Producers are encouraged to communicate with each other and work together to provide the necessary isolation to protect specialty seed crops while allowing canola production."