“The great thing about canola is that’s it’s something that’s good for the American public and for the farmers, it’s been good for the bottom line,” said Pederson, who plants about 40 percent of his land northwest of Devils Lake, N.D., in canola.
The sky may not always be the limit for canola, which compared to more traditional U.S. crops is still taking baby steps.
Jacobson estimates the canola industry has already reaped roughly 75 percent of the benefits it could ultimately acquire due to the decline in the use of partially hydrogenated oils (PHO). If the FDA ultimately bans trans fat as expected, Jacobson said the canola business will climb a bit more, but even then he thinks demand could plateau due to competition from a resurging soybean oil industry.
“Many of the products still made with PHO need a solid fat —more like palm oil or (restructured) soybean oil than canola — so canola’s gain might not be as proportionately great in the future as it was in the past,” Jacobson said.
For now, growers are counting their blessings — and the dollars — they’re making off the crop.
“I’m excited for the farmers,” said Sanders, the canola expert. “This crop is changing how we farm. It’s changing agriculture, and we’re going to continue to see that.”