Ag groups respond favorably to National Pollinator Strategy

The reaction to the release of the White House Pollinator Health Task Force's "National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators has been favorable by ag organizations. Three of the first organizations to issue statements were CropLife America, the Agricultural Retailers Association and Bayer CropScience.

CropLife America said it is ready to review the report closely to identify areas of collaboration and partnership in supporting pollinator health. It praised the task force for creating a multi-pronged, coordinated approach.

"The crop protection industry looks forward to joining the many stakeholders in reviewing the National Pollinator Health Strategy. We are hopeful both the private and public sectors can strategically address pollinator health together, stated Jay Vroom, president and CEO of CLA. "Pollinators add more than $24 billion to our nation's economy, and honey bees support over 90 commercially grown crops in North America1. CLA and our members support stewardship practices in seed treatment, among other key crop protection strategies, and we will continue to work with growers, beekeepers, regulators and other stakeholders to promote responsible pesticide use.

"Early reports from unnamed sources knowledgeable about the White House report are saying that it will accelerate EPA's timeline for further scientific evaluation of bee impacts by certain insecticides – 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.

"We're also keen to see how the new White House report addresses the role of long-sought state management plans outlined by EPA in edicts to state regulators over the past year, Vroom added.

Agricultural Retailers Association

The Agricultural Retailers Association applauded the announcement of the National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and other Pollinators and the companion Pollinator Research Action Plan, released Tuesday by President Barack Obama's Pollinator Health Task Force.

"ARA and our members understand the importance of pollinators in growing crops and sustaining plant life," said Richard Gupton, Senior Vice President of Public Policy for ARA. "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."

Although the report does not identify a single factor in the decline of pollinator populations, the report links sharp honey bee colony declines to the introduction of the parasitic Varroa mite. The report also notes other factors impacting pollinator health such as access to adequate forage and nutrition.

ARA supports strategies for improving pollinator health recommended by the administration such as dedicated pollinator habitat; increased outreach, education and communication among key stakeholders (e.g. bee keepers, farmers, and custom applicators); improved pesticide stewardship through appropriate pesticide label instructions; best management practices for crop protection; and sound bee hive management.

ARA is an active member of the Honey Bee Health Coalition (HBHC), which was formed in 2014 to bring together beekeepers, researchers, government agencies, agribusinesses, growers, conservation groups, manufacturers and consumer brands, and other key partners to improve the health of honey bees.

"ARA looks forward to working with the Obama Administration and HBHC members to develop and promote science-based, collaborative proposals that improve honey bee and other pollinator health and an American agricultural industry that is economically and environmentally sustainable," Gupton added.

Calling it a "balanced and multi-faceted approach, Bayer CropScience also welcomed the release of the President's Pollinator Task Force's National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators. Bayer commended the call for extensive new research into all aspects of pollinator health and the unprecedented commitment to increase pollinator habitat and forage.

Bayer CropScience

For almost 30 years Bayer has worked to study and improve pollinator health, particularly managed honey bee colonies important to ensuring an abundant and affordable food supply. Specifically, Bayer has focused on collaborating with researchers to understand the factors affecting honey bee health, helping beekeepers control the dangerous Varroa mite, expanding education and outreach on pollinator health, and increasing forage for all pollinators.

"This strategy is a strong statement in favor of a balanced and multi-faceted approach to improving pollinator health, said Becky Langer, Ph.D., head of Bayer CropScience's North American Bee Care Program.  "While bee populations are not declining, they face many complex challenges, some of which we're only just beginning to fully understand.  Improving honey bee health will take a concerted effort from all stakeholders, including the public, and this strategy will help provide a framework for our collective response.

Jim Blome, president and CEO of Bayer CropScience LP added, "We are particularly encouraged by the specific commitment to invest more into research to improve our understanding of pollinator health.  Everything from grower decisions, consumer choice and regulatory actions must be based in sound science and the strategy's call for more research will help ensure that we have the best science available. We are proud to be contributing new studies and understanding population dynamics.