Last June, President Obama called for an interagency Task Force to create a Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators. Tuesday, the Task Force released its strategy, under the joint leadership of EPA and USDA.
Industry reaction to the plan, which outlines actions to be taken by more than a dozen other federal agencies and departments, has been very positive.
The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) applauded the Task Force for emphasizing the importance of public-private partnerships and collaboration between all stakeholders. “Even though corn does not rely on pollinators, we recognize that they are critical to the overall health and vitality of our agricultural system,” said Don Glenn, chair of NCGA’s Production and Stewardship Action Team. “The National Pollinator Health Strategy underscores that everyone – farmers, beekeepers, conservationists, industry, and government – must work together to solve this challenge.”
Bayer CropScience president and CEO Jim Blome calls the strategy a “balanced and multi-faceted approach” and said they are particularly encouraged by the commitment to invest more into research, noting that many of Bayer’s on-going pollinator initiatives mirror specific recommendations included in the national strategy.
Agricultural Retailers Association Senior Vice President of Public Policy Richard Gupton was also encouraged by the balanced approach of the plan. “ARA and our members understand the importance of pollinators in growing crops and sustaining plant life,” said Gupton. “We applaud President Obama and members of the Pollinator Health Task Force for also recognizing that pesticides play a critical part in agricultural production and the health of our society.”
The strategy focuses on a number of factors impacting pollinator health, including “pests and pathogens, reduced habitat, lack of nutritional resources, and exposure to pesticides” and directs EPA complete a review of the effects of neonicotinoid pesticides on pollinators by the end of 2017. CropLife America CEO Jay Vroom expressed some concern about the accelerated timeline for the review. “We are skeptical of how sound science can be ‘sped up’ for this evaluation and look forward to a reasoned dialogue with EPA on that point,” said Vroom.