- Agronomic: canola
- Crop Production: food product quality/safety
- Education and Training: demonstration, on-farm/ranch research
- Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, marketing management, e-commerce, farm-to-institution, agricultural finance, market study, value added
- Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities
The problem we are addressing is finding a local value-added market for the canola grown. Farmers are hesitant to grow a crop that can only be marketed to a distant market in another country. Currently there are no canola processing facilities in Michigan and our canola has to be shipped to Windsor, Ontario. The canola meal left over from the pressing process is then shipped back to Michigan for dairy feed. This problem is compounded by the fact that we have low acres in canola production so there is little incentive for anyone to start a processing plant. It is difficult to increase the acres because farmers see the transportation expense and the distant market, and are hesitant to plant a new crop with these drawbacks. The solution we want to research builds on our 2-year relationship with Dow AgroSciences (DAS) in growing Omega-9 canola – a value-added specialty canola. Many people in the industry believe that Omega-9 canola oil, because of its high monounsaturated fat (the most healthy fat) and low saturated fat, will become an oil of choice for consumers in the future. The closest processing plant for Omega-9 canola is in Enderlin, North Dakota. Transporting canola seed to Enderlin (900 miles) may be cost prohibitive. Our solution is to research and test a strategy to grow, process, and market Omega-9 oil in Michigan. We propose to do a test run on 1,500 pounds of canola seed, which we can get mechanically pressed in Michigan, yielding between 50 and 60 gallons of canola oil. This oil will then need to be refined to meet industry standards, bottled, and sold at farmer markets, through a website, and to small, local food processors. A Michigan certified kitchen would be rented for processing and bottling. Plastic bottles will be purchased, and labels that reflect the health benefits will be designed and printed. The goals for this are: Goal 1: To use a mechanical press to extract the oil from 1,500 pounds of Omega-9 canola seed. Goal 2: To refine the Omega-9 oil to commercially acceptable standards. Goal 3: To bottle the oil in one-quart plastic bottles. Goal 4: To design a label that incorporates “grown locally” and healthy oil information. Goal 5: To test market to 3 small food processors. Goal 6: To select one farm market to test retailing the product. Goal 7: To work with two farmers to grow Omega-9 canola in 2011. Goal 8: To develop and maintain a website to promote Omega-9 oil, inform the public of its health benefits, and provide information to farmers. Goal 9: To disseminate the information learned.