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Public Statements

Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. HASTINGS of Florida. Mr. Chair, my amendment today is simple: No bees, no food. The amendment improves federal coordination in addressing the documented decline of managed and native pollinators, as well as promotes the long-term viability of honey bees, wild bees, and other beneficial insects in agriculture.

Beekeepers and their honey bees are vitally important partners in American agriculture.

They provide essential pollination services to a diverse array of important agricultural commodities. Bee pollinated crops represent an estimated $20 billion in value annually.

Furthermore, one in three bites of food that we eat directly or indirectly comes from pollinators.

Unfortunately, our honey bees, native bees and other pollinating partners are showing signs of decline.

Colony collapse Disorder (CCD), multiple pests and diseases continue to plague beekeepers and their honey bees, as well as affect agriculture producers who depend on their pollination services.

This means that our food and job security, and healthy ecosystems are also at risk.

A recent study released by the National Academy of Sciences on the status of pollinators in North America, highlighted the lack of research and coordination in the federal government when it comes to pollinator health and protection.

In 2008, I offered an amendment to the Farm Bill aimed at protecting pollinators through additional research at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Those provisions went a long way in highlighting the seriousness of pollinator health decline and Colony Collapse Disorder.

I am pleased to see those provisions preserved and extended in this year's Farm Bill. While progress has been made, we still have a long way to go. My amendment will help address these issues.

Bee health is affected by the activities of a number of federal agencies who are dedicated to finding a solution.

But this is a complex problem and it requires a sophisticated and multi-agency response.

For example, USDA activities alone include the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), the National Institutes of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), the Farm Services Agency (FSA), the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), and the U.S. Forest Service.

Forage area for bees can be enhanced through federal programs on conservation and public lands that are managed by the U.S. Departments of Interior and Transportation.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for striking the delicate balance between pollinator health and the ability of our nation's growers to produce strong crop yields.

And, of course, agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC), as well as the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency all have a role in ensuring a safe food supply and level playing field capable of supporting our nation's commercial beekeepers.

Specifically, my amendment: promotes cooperation between federal agencies to support the long-term viability and health of pollinator populations including to share guidance and technical expertise, establishes a task force on bee health and commercial beekeeping to coordinate federal efforts; requires the production of a report on the United States' and international efforts to address the decline; requests regular monitoring and reporting on health and population status of pollinators (including bees, birds, bats, and other species); encourages agencies to utilize the best available peer-reviewed science on environmental and chemical stressors to pollinators, including giving consideration to international efforts addressing pollinator declines; as well as encourages the Secretary of Agriculture to conduct feasibility studies for the creation of a new bee lab at ARS, and the modernization of current facilities.

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