The European Commission (EC) confirmed on 15 December that canola from Australia complies with its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions rules and is eligible to enter the EU market as a biodiesel feedstock.

The EC said in a statement that it had granted a five-year approval to Australian canola after determining that the typical GHG emissions of canola cultivation in the country were lower than the EU’s default reference values for biofuel sustainability.

In order to meet its new GHG reduction targets, the EU would have prohibited Australian canola from 1 January 2018 unless Australian farmers demonstrated their crop complied with the bloc’s low-emission rules, wrote World Grain on 18 December.

Australian Oilseed Federation (AOF) CEO Nick Goddard said the EU market, being the biggest importer of Australian canola, was too valuable to lose and farmers were relieved about the decision.

“In 2016/17, Australian canola exports to the EU were typically worth over US$1bn, with nearly all those exports used for biodiesel production,” Goddard said.

Professor Ross Kingwell, chief economist at the Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre, said many Australian farmers relied on canola and that securing a “lucrative” market such as the EU was crucial for the security and general profitability of farming in Australia.

The majority of Australian canola was not genetically modified (GM) and attracted a premium of US$20-US$40/tonne on the EU market, which had earned the industry approximately US$100M more in 2016/17.

World Grain said Australian non-GM canola offered more options for the EU supply chain, as its meal could be used for animal feed.