Legislation supports farmers, beekeepers
To the editor:
Did you know that bees pollinate one in three bites of our food in the U.S. and are critical to the Minnesota agricultural economy?
Minnesota beekeepers lost more than 50 percent of their hives in 2015. With bees contributing more than $30 million to Minnesota’s agricultural economy by pollinating crops and producing honey, pollinator decline (bee die-off) is both an environmental and economic problem.
Causes of pollinator decline include habitat loss and disease, but neonicotinoid pesticides also pose an immediate and significant harm. These pesticides are commonly applied as seed coatings on corn and soybeans. A recent Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) report found that neonicotinoid pesticides harm pollinators, and stated we must act now to protect them.
Current state and federal policy does not define seed coatings as a “pesticide application.” This year, Minnesota lawmakers can change that through legislative action:
1. Fund a Pollinator Account, which will be included in a larger agricultural finance bill, HF 895/SF 780, for research and farmer-focused outreach and education, and,
2. Create a Treated Seed Program, included as Part of HF 1717, the agricultural policy bill: for the MDA to monitor/regulate pesticide-coated seeds the same way it does other pesticides applied in the state.
This legislation, requested by the MDA, would support farmers and beekeepers and protect pollinators. Unless we act now, pollinator populations will further decline. Tell your legislators to support the MDA and urge them to protect pollinators and our agricultural economy.