Thursday, November 23, 2017

House agricultural subcommittee leaders praise public-private partnership in White House bee report

The leaders of the House Agriculture subcommittee on biotechnology, horticulture and research said on Thursday they were pleased with the results of the White House’s Pollinator Health Strategy report, which aims to reduce honey bee colony losses.

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., praised the balance between pollinator health and agricultural interests struck by the report and its encouragement of public-private partnerships to achieve goals of pollinator health.

"It wasn't something I thought I'd be doing as a congressman, but it's an important issue nationwide. Pollinators add about $15 billion to the economy,” Davis told EP Newswire.

However, “the devil’s going to be in the details,” he said, regarding the specifics of the plan and how they are implemented.

A White House task force devised the national strategy to protect pollinators with three overarching goals: to reduce honey bee colony losses to economically sustainable levels; increase the monarch butterfly numbers to protect the annual migration; and restore or enhance 7 million acres of land for pollinators through combined public and private action.

Davis said he was satisfied with the report’s focus on interagency cooperation, given that the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture worked together to tackle problems with the declining health of pollinators for the first time. Congress encouraged the agencies to collaborate at a hearing on the subject of pollinator health earlier this month.

Democratic Rep. Suzan DelBene of Washington, the ranking Democrat on the subcommittee, said she found the report to be an important part of bringing an increasing number of stakeholders from government and business into the conversation about pollinators.

“It will take both the private and public sectors coming together because we all have a stake in developing a successful strategy,” DelBene said in emailed remarks. “It will take beekeepers, farmers, entomologists and lawmakers working together.”

Without pollinators like bees and monarch butterflies, the food available in grocery stores would be radically different, which is why both Davis and DelBene framed this as an issue no part of the country or government can afford to ignore.

“I look forward to continuing my work on the agriculture committee to build off this report and identify solutions that will support our farmers, the environment and a stable food supply,” DelBene said.

Organizations in this story

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 1200 Pennsylvania Ave NW Washington, DC - 20460

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