Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Wisconsin unveils plan to protect pollinators

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) announced recently that it has posted a plan for protecting bees and other pollinators throughout the state.

The plan, developed in tandem with the University of Wisconsin-Madison Entomology Department, contains best management practices and data on the dangers and risks facing the state's pollinators, which include non-native honey bees, 400 species of native bees, and other insects.

"This plan offers science-based recommendations to beekeepers, gardeners and homeowners, farmers, and anyone with land that can provide habitat for pollinators. It is entirely voluntary; it is not a new set of regulations," DATCP Secretary Ben Brancel said. "We owe a debt of gratitude to our panel of stakeholders who spent hours considering the data and discussing the best management practices to protect pollinators. The time they spent helps us all, because pollinators mean food on our plates, millions of dollars in added crop values and thousands of jobs in Wisconsin."

Bee populations across the country have faced numerous challenges in recent years, including parasites and so-called colony collapse. With the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimating that approximately 35 precent of the world's food crops depend on animal pollination, farmers, scientists, and others in the agricultural community have raised concerns the sustainability of our food system if the pollinator problem isn't addressed.

The new Wisconsin plan aims to address the issue by improving wild pollinator habitat, minimizing the amount of stress on wild and managed populations, improving the health of managed hives, and ramping up outreach and education about best practices for encouraging healthy pollinators.

The plan was funded by a Specialty Crop Block Grant from the USDA. The public can comment on the plan through Feb. 19.

Organizations in this story

Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection

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