Press Releases

Subcommittee Reviews the Federal Coordination and Response Regarding Pollinator Health

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Washington, DC, May 13, 2015 | comments

Washington, D.C. - Today, Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL), Chairman of the Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research Subcommittee, held a public hearing to review the federal coordination and response regarding pollinator health. 

In both the 2008 and 2014 farm bills, provisions were included to authorize pollinator research and extension programs; to expand capacity and infrastructure within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to promote pollinator health; and to authorize expanded surveillance of pests and diseases affecting pollinators. Pollinators are essential in crop pollination, however, as the issue becomes increasingly politicized, there is growing disconnect between scientific facts and public perception of the role pesticides play in pollinator health.  

“Federal coordination and communication is vital in establishing rules and regulations impacting pollinator health and farmers’ abilities to produce food,” Subcommittee Chairman Davis said. “Pollinators play an important role in agriculture production, and it is essential that agencies work together to promote their health without overburdening farmers and politicizing the issue. It is because of situations like this why we fought so hard in the farm bill to give agriculture a seat at the table when EPA is considering rules and regulations that would impact farmers. I hope today’s hearing highlights the benefits of coordinated efforts and the pitfalls of a go-it-alone mentality within government agencies.” 

“I appreciate representatives from EPA and USDA committing to coordinated efforts to promote pollinator health,” Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway said. “Our agriculture policies must be based on sound science and include input from the agriculture community. What we do in Washington, and how agencies work with each other, directly affects farmers and ranchers’ ability to do their jobs. I am encouraged by the leadership of Rep. Davis and look forward to the future oversight on this issue.” 

In 2014, the President issued an Executive Memorandum establishing a White House Task Force to review pollinator health. Agencies and Departments were directed to work together to develop a National Pollinator Health Strategy. However, communication between agencies has been inconsistent. As a result, USDA and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), both co-chairs of the task force, disagreed on a report submitted by EPA about the benefits of neonicotinoid pesticide treatment of soybeans seeds. USDA was not involved in the process and called the assessment incomplete, premature, and unnecessarily burdensome to the task before farmers and ranchers to produce food, feed, and fiber for a strong and healthy America. 

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