Washington, D.C.—U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) today praised the Obama Administration for creating a Pollinator Health Task Force to develop a federal strategy to promote the health of honey bees and other pollinators. The new interagency task force will help address troubling pollinator declines in California, New York and elsewhere by improving federal coordination to protect the long-term viability of native and managed pollinators.
“I am pleased that the White House is taking action to address the causes of pollinator declines in California and across the country,” Senator Boxer said. “These actions will ensure that our federal agencies are working together to promote the health of our pollinator populations, which are so vital to our farmers and to California’s $43 billion agricultural economy.”
“New York’s agricultural industry is a key part of America’s economy and pollinators play such an important role in that success,” said Senator Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. “With the alarming drop in pollinators, farmers across America have been suffering from a decrease in agricultural productivity. This new federal strategy to promote the health of honey bees and other pollinators is a step in the right direction. It will allow research to be advanced to better understand and rectify this drastic loss that is impacting America’s agricultural system.”
During negotiations for the 2014 Farm Bill, Senator Boxer and Senator Gillibrand introduced a honey bee and pollinator amendment that among other provisions would have created an interagency task force dedicated to developing a federal strategy to address pollinator declines and sustain a healthy pollinator population. The amendment was included in the Farm Bill passed in the House, but was not included in the final bill.
Since 2006, winter hive losses for managed honeybee hives have averaged nearly 30 percent, compared to historical losses of 10 to 15 percent. The losses in part have been attributed to a phenomenon commonly referred to as Colony Collapse Disorder, which results in sudden and catastrophic hive depopulation. Honey bees and other pollinators are under threat by a multitude of stressors including habitat loss, disease, exposure to certain pesticides and management practices. The new taskforce has been directed with creating an action plan to focus federal efforts on understanding, preventing and recovering pollinator populations.
Senator Boxer authored the Pollinator Protection Act – which was included in the 2008 Farm Bill and authorized provisions for pollinator research at the USDA.