Last February, Bluestem Prairie and nearly two hundred other people concerned about the status of Minnesota attended the Minnesota Department of Agriculture Pollinators Summit.
While in the many months since we wondered that the work by the stakeholders at the meeting might be shelved, during a press conference this morning at the Minnesota State Fair, Governor Mark Dayton announced a sweeping Executive Order on reversing pollinator declines and restoring pollinator health:
Here's the press statement from the Governor's office summarizing the actions:
Governor Mark Dayton today issued Executive Order 16-07, requiring the state to take specific actions to reverse the decline of bees and other pollinator populations that play a crucial role in agriculture and food production. Pollinator populations, critical to our state’s $90 billion agricultural sector, have been in decline in Minnesota over the past decade.
“Bees and other pollinators play a critical role in supporting both our environment, and our economy,” said Governor Mark Dayton. “This order directs state government to take immediate action to alleviate the known risks that pollinators face. It also will create a new taskforce to study the issues impacting pollinators and recommend long-term solutions.”
The Governor’s order follows the completion of a Special Registration Review of Neonicotinoid Pesticides conducted by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture that outlines action steps for minimizing the impact of pesticide use in the state.
Executive Order 16-07 requires the Department of Agriculture to immediately initiate action steps, which include requiring verification that the application of neonicotinoid pesticides is made due to an imminent threat of significant crop loss, reviewing pesticide product labels and implementing appropriate Minnesota-specific restrictions on their use, increasing enforcement of label requirements for pesticides that are acutely toxic to pollinators, and to continue developing and promoting best management practices designed to protect and enhance pollinator health in Minnesota.
“Pollinators are vital to agriculture and agriculture is a vital to the state of Minnesota,” said Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson. “The Governor’s action today underscores how important it is for the state to be a leader in the response to protect our pollinator population.”
The Governor’s order further requires the State Department of Administration to lead by example and take immediate steps to support pollinator health on state property.
“The Governor’s actions today will mean that products and plants purchased by the state for use on public property reflect environmentally friendly business practices,” said Administration Commissioner Matt Massman. “Our initial steps to protect pollinator health will provide the tools for state employees to lead the way in ensuring our workplaces and practices are pollinator-friendly and protective of their vital role in Minnesota’s environment and economy.”
Executive Order 16-07 also includes the following:
- The Environmental Quality Board is required to create an Interagency Pollinator Protection Team that will develop statewide pollinator goals and report annually on those goals;
- The Department of Natural Resources is required to develop strategies to minimize pesticide use, maximize restoration, and improve management of pollinator habitat on land administered by the agency;
- The Board of Soil and Water Resources is required to incorporate pollinator habitat into wetland protection and restoration programs, agricultural conservation practices, and urban water quality projects; and
- The Department of Transportation is required to restore, protect, and enhance pollinator habitat on state-owned transportation properties and rights of way.
A Governor’s Committee on Pollinator Protection also will be established to advise the Governor and state agencies on pollinator policies and programs. Up to 15 members will be appointed to ensure that Minnesota citizens have a seat at the table in shaping the solutions that will ensure a healthy pollinator population and the continued strength of our agriculture economy. Applications will be accepted through the Secretary of State’s open appointments process.
If you think you're qualified to sit on the "bee board," turn in an application.
Here's the MDA's Executive Summary review on neonicotinoids:
Here's the report from the summit:
We'll post more about the reaction these developments as news unfolds.
Photo: MDA Commissioner Dave Frederickson speaks at the Friday press conference at the Minnesota State Fair.
If you appreciate our posts and original analysis, you can mail contributions (payable to Sally Jo Sorensen P.O. Box 108, Maynard MN 56260) or use the paypal button in the upper right hand corner of this post.
Or you can contribute via this link to paypal; use email sally.jo.sorensen at gmail.com as recipient.