In late November, AmericanHort and SAF submitted comments to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding the Obama administration’s Pollinator Health Task Force, which includes 16 federal agencies and is co-chaired by EPA and USDA.
We had words of encouragement for the initial intent of the task force as described in the president’s memorandum of June 2014, “Creating a Federal Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators.” The memorandum embraced the full set of challenges facing bees and other pollinators, as have reports by USDA and the National Academy of Sciences, including issues like habitat, forage, parasites, pathogens and pesticides. The president called for robust dialogue, public-private partnerships and the need for greater efforts to educate the public on the issue.
However, since the memorandum was released, deadlines have been missed. The administration’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) published guidance regarding landscape plants on federal properties that was far out of step with industry practices. Public listening sessions held by EPA and USDA on November 12 and 17 have largely resulted in attacks on our agricultural system and pesticides rather than directly addressing pollinator health challenges.
Our letter to the task force urged them to remain focused on their original mission and to rely on credible scientific evidence to guide their decisions. In addition, we expressed a continued willingness to partner with the administration and play a role in alleviating concerns surrounding the pollinator health issue.
For more information, visit the AmericanHort Knowledge Center.