Camelina meal approved for feedlot cattle

By Susanne Retka Schill | October 14, 2009
Posted November 11, 2009

Camelina cleared another hurdle for the future success and adoption of the new biodiesel feedstock. The North American Camelina Trade Association announced Nov. 10 that it received approval from the Center for Veterinary Medicine, a department of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, for the use of camelina meal in the diets of feedlot beef cattle up to 10 percent of the weight of the total ration. Camelina meal has already received approval from the FDA for inclusion in up to 10 percent of the weight of the total ration of broiler chickens based on a broiler feeding study. This study was the first project funded by NACTA, through a grant from the Montana Department of Agriculture.

"Opening up the feedlot beef market for camelina meal feeding opportunities is a tremendous step in building a strong, long-term market for camelina production," said Scott Johnson, president of NACTA. "Increasing the number of markets for the most significant co-product of camelina oil production ensures growers the ability to drive additional revenue from the crop beyond just oil."

NACTA will continue working to obtain certification from the FDA for additional market segments such as laying hens, swine and dairy. "Camelina meal is an excellent source of protein, and with the growing demand for biofuels made from camelina oil, it is extremely important that our producers have multiple co-product outlets," Johnson said. The study on camelina use in laying hen rations is nearing completion and soon to be submitted to the FDA. "We expect this to occur by year's end and go through a review process that takes about six to eight weeks," he said. Once the laying hen study is submitted, the next target is a feeding study for swine. NACTA and member companies are working on Canadian approval as well.

NACTA was formed in February 2009 by 13 camelina seed companies, processors and researchers. Johnson, president of Sustainable Oils Inc., serves as president of the trade association; Craig Parker, CEO, Willamette Biomass Processors Inc., is treasurer; and David King, Great Plains-The Camelina Co., is secretary. The association works to promote research, production and the development of new markets for camelina. Camelina sativa is a member of the mustard family and a distant relative to canola. It is a fast-growing, short-seasoned crop that produces good yields on modest rainfall, and is a low-input crop that fits well into crop rotations without displacing the primary food crops. Its high oil content and other properties make it a great fit for biofuel production. Its high sustainability profile made it a candidate for the high-profile biofuel blend tests in the aviation industry this past year.

Other hurdles have been cleared for the new crop as well, including catastrophic crop insurance. "We really need to work toward a comprehensive crop insurance program similar to what is available for other commodities," Johnson added. One grass control herbicide is available for use in camelina, and work continues on other weed control measures as well as continuing research on agronomic practices. "In addition, it's critical for the crop to have access to efficient logistics and crushing to fill the demand that we are creating for the crop," Johnson said. Plantings of the new crop are expected to approach 100,000 acres this year, which is considered a major step towards full commercialization of the new crop.
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