A new effort is underway that will provide growers and retailers with a way to communicate their bee-friendly efforts to customers and the public.
A voluntary program will be available through the industry’s collaborative Pollinator Stewardship Initiative that will offer discussion points, frequently asked questions and tools to help growers and retailers give some industry perspective to customers and members of the public who are asking about their practices regarding bee and pollinator health.
Joe Bischoff, Regulatory & Legislative Affairs director for AmericanHort, says the Pollinator Stewardship Initiative is working with a public relations firm to develop tools, but more information will be available soon,
The bee-friendly effort will be open to anyone who wants to use it and feels that they need messaging to communicate with their customers.
“The whole thrust of this is that we are trying to get, for the industry, the tools that growers need, through the research and the messaging, to be able to answer some of the charges that are being unfairly loaded on us,” says the Society of American Florists’ (SAF) Senior Director of Government Relations Lin Schmale. “That’s the goal here, and if we can do something like a quasi Good Housekeeping seal of approval with a voluntary program that growers can participate in, it’s really going to help the industry present a more positive face.”
It’s important to continue to emphasize that the ornamental industry is the original green industry, Bischoff says.
“We do need to reinforce that and uphold that moniker, and there are some helpful studies that are going to be coming out soon, in addition to the research that we’re going to be supporting through the Pollinator Stewardship Initiative, that will hopefully help us add to that story,” he says.
Look for an announcement, coming soon, about the research projects that will be funded by the Initiative.
Continued Focus On Working With Beekeepers
AmericanHort and SAF have been working tirelessly to develop relationships with other crop groups, both on the row crop side of agriculture and other specialty agriculture groups, to figure out how to work collaboratively toward pollinator health. One of the focus areas, Bischoff says, is to work in good faith with the two national organizations for beekeepers, the American Honey Producers Association and the American Beekeeping Federation.
“The first effort is really to identify a statement of principles, about how we can tackle some of these issues and challenges together, within the agriculture industries,” Bischoff says. “Managing bees and producing honey is ag, and the production pollinaton services are an important part of ag. So it’s about trying to finding solutions together. It’s been a multi-month process, and we’re making progress and moving toward a lot more coordination between the crop groups and the beekeepers.”
For more information on the Pollinator Stewardship Initiative, visit the AmericanHort website, AmericanHort.org.