Agriculture | local | Sustainability | Renewable energy | NW Life

Farmers, Food Groups Sue Over Canola Rules

OPB | April 26, 2013 1:39 p.m. | Updated: April 29, 2013 12:04 p.m. | Bend, Oregon

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Oregon farmers who oppose the growing of canola in Willamette Valley are taking that fight to court.

Canola flower.

Canola flower.

Honeyhuyue / Wikimedia

The coalition, which includes The Center for Food Safety and Friends of Family Farmers, filed their lawsuit earlier this month with the Oregon Court of Appeals.  

The suit challenges a February decision from the Oregon Department of Agriculture that would open up about 2,500 acres in the valley for production. 

Canola can be used for biofuel. But many in the valley’s specialty seed industry are concerned the canola could cross pollinate with their crops, despite some new regulations designed to prevent that. 

George Kimbrell is with the Center for Food Safety and is the lead attorney for the plaintiffs.  He says the existing ban was put in place with good reason.

“The Department of Agriculture has for a long time recognized that this crop industrial canola is harmful to Oregon’s crown jewel of agriculture, this specialty seed industry there, and prohibited it.  And there is no science, or any rational reason, supporting a change of that policy,” said Kimbrell.

Meanwhile, Oregon lawmakers are considering a five-year ban on canola production in the valley while researchers study the issue.

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