By not paying close attention to Minnesota Department of Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson's testimony, Ricardo Lopez conflates February's Pollinator Summit and separate special registration review of neonicotinoid insecticides in his Hot Dish Politics post, House GOP criticize Dayton's executive order on pollinator rules.
Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson and some DFL legislators pushed back at Republican criticism that farmers and other agriculture operators were not included in the process. They said the administration invited GOP legislators to a February summit and that more than 400 public comments were received, including some from industry representatives.
Um, that's not quite what the ag commissioner said.
Here's the relevant section of Frederickson's testimony:
The first step was not August of 26 of this year, or the August 26 announcement of the Governor's Executive Order. The first step was actually taken back in 2013 when the legislature directed the Minnesota Department of Agriculture to develop best management practices to protect pollinators and to issue a report on the status of pollinators in Minnesota.
That was followed by the legislature again requesting that the Minnesota Department of Agriculture conduct the special registration review of neonicotinoid pesticides. The results of the special registry review and subsequent recommendations were then included in the directives outlined in the Governor's Executive Order.
These directives were based on discussions with stakeholders at the pollinator summit held in February and the special registration review process, including public comments included as part of the scoping document.
These public comments include a total of 444 responses, including five responses from ag industry representatives.
The executive order acknowledges the value of and the importance of agriculture in the state of Minnesota.
Watch the comments here:
Frederickson outlines two processes, one of which began long before the MDA Pollinator Summit. The summit was much more broad in its focus than just looking at neonics use.
As Lopez points out, the Republican legislators on the Ag Policy Committee were invited to the summit--and so were other stakeholders such as the Minnesota Corn Growers, the Soybean Growers, Farmers Union, co-ops such as CHS, and ag industry representatives, all of whom sent staff to the Summit. DFL legislators were also on the guest list.
But the comments Frederickson mentions don't come out of the Summit, as Lopez's copy implies. Indeed, the public comment period for the registry review scoping document closed in May 2014, many months before the February 2016 Pollinator Summit.
We had contacted Sam Fettig, Dayton's Press Secretary about the special registration review in an email 's statement unrelated to the Lopez article. Fettig's statement distinguished between the registry review and the pollinator summit:
“At the direction of the Minnesota Legislature, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture undertook an extensive, public process of research and review on the impact of neonicotinoids on pollinators, including a full and open public comment period. Further, the Department hosted a Pollinator Summit attended by Minnesota farmers, agriculture groups, and members of the public, to gather public input on pollinator policy. The Governor’s Executive Order followed that legislatively-mandated public process, and the Pollinator Summit, to ensure that the State of Minnesota leads by example on protecting Minnesota pollinators and the agriculture they support.”
Fettig also shared the link to the Special registration review of neonicotinoid insecticides. The public comment period occurred in 2014:
At the direction of the Minnesota legislature and the Commissioner of Agriculture (PDF: 213.8 KB / 1 page), the MDA, together with partners at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the University of Minnesota, and the Board of Water and Soil Resources, determined the scope-of-work (the underlying criteria) necessary to conduct a special registration review of neonicotinoid insecticides for the State of Minnesota. The draft scoping document was prepared to guide the special registration review of neonicotinoid insecticides and to describe the process and criteria that will be used when conducting the review.
The MDA accepted public comments on the draft scoping document until May 2, 2014. At the close of the comment period, the MDA received 444 public comments. The MDA has created two documents to facilitate stakeholder review: Comments that were unique due to their content and comments that employed a common text. The two PDFs are:
The unique comments include material from Bayer CropScience (page 4); Minnesota Crop Production Retailers (page 35); Minnesota Agri-Growth Council (page 36); the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation (page 38) and Syngenta (page 69). Three commercial beekeepers--two from Greater Minnesota (Barrett and Eagle Bend) and an Iowa-based operation in bordering Howard County) also comment; they should be considered as part of agriculture.
Several DFL legislators sent a letter, but there's no comment from their Republican counterparts. Were Anderson and his colleagues simply asleep at the wheel--or too busy helping then-candidate Jeff Backer formulate talking points and name-calling about "metro" rural DFLers to actually weigh in on policy considerations?
But since the Strib can't be bothered to report accurately, we gather that it's more important for the paper to be able to tell readers, as J. Patrick Coolican does in today's Morning Hot Dish, that the hearing provides ". . .GOP with a nice wedge issue among ag and related outstate voters."
Only if we don't know about the basic timeline and facts of the legislatively-mandated review, and the media seems happy not to report them.
We read one such example in Willmar Radio's report, Representative Miller says Dayton "blindsided" farmers with pesticide ban:
An area lawmaker is ripping Governor Mark Dayton over his ban of a pesticide that kills honey bees. Yesterday Representative Tim Miller of Prinsburg and members of the Minnesota House Agriculture Policy committee took part in an informational hearing to learn more about why Dayton issued an executive order to restrict the use of neonicotinoid pesticides on August 26th. He issued the order in hopes of reversing the decline of bee and other pollinator populations, but Miller says he did so without consulting or collaborating with farmers or agriculture stakeholders. ...
There's no "ban" on neonics (farmers and licensed applicators have to follow the instructions on the chemicals' label, including the bee box, Frederickson testified).
If the Ag Mafia was "blindsided" during a process that includes several opportunities for public comment and participation, we can only conclude that the DMV isn't doing a good job when testing vision at the time drivers' licenses are renewed.
Or that these are folks more comfortable with insiders' special veto powers than with a more public process and with special interests over sound science. Perhaps Anderson and friends simply slept on the days when the legislature itself began the discussion. Or they've missed the public's concern about pollinator health. Our posts Lost in buzz about House poll, Senate State Fair poll shows Minnesotans sweet on neonic limits and Greater Minnesota loves bees: Baxter City Council learns of pollinator garden plans in park might provide a hint or two.
For full video of Tuesday's hearing and a list of those who attended the Pollinators Summit, see our earlier post, [Video] House Ag Policy info hearing on Dayton's neonic order; summit attendee list.
Photo: Milker gives pet cat some milk direct from cow, Brandtjen Dairy Farm, Dakota County, Minnesota, 1939. Apparently, the ag industry lobbyists and operatives believe they have a special place in the barn, even these days, before the milk of policy is served at the table Dayton set for this discussion. Photo by Arthur Rothstein, FSA, via Library of Congress.
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