Following the creation of a federal task force to address lower pollinator populations and improvements for pollinator health, the public has had a chance to weigh in on the issues at two public listening sessions, held over the past two weeks.
Don Glenn, chairman of the National Corn Growers Association's Production and Stewardship Action Team, spoke at a session, held outside Washington, D.C.
"Although corn does not rely on bees or other pollinators, we recognize their importance to agriculture," Glenn said. "It's important for us to be at the table, as a voice for farmers, and engaging in a productive conservation about how to solve this challenge."
The task force was created by a presidential initiative in June and is jointly run by the USDA and EPA. It is seeking input on types of activities that could be part of a health improvement strategy, including public-private partnerships, research, educational opportunities, pollinator habitat improvements and pesticide risk mitigation, EPA said earlier this month.
Glenn said NCGA is eager to partner with Task Force members on grower education efforts and to continue dialogue.
"Farmers, beekeepers, conservationists, industry, government – we are all partners. NCGA is committed to finding and implementing solutions that will improve pollinator health and ensure a thriving population that are economically viable and practical for farmers."
Earlier this year, NCGA joined the newly-formed Honey Bee Health Coalition, comprised of agricultural organizations and agribusinesses, researchers, beekeepers and conservation groups.
The coalition's mission is to help achieve a healthy population of honey bees and to support healthy populations of pollinators in the context of productive agricultural systems and thriving ecosystems.
According to the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, about 35% of the world’s food crops depend on animal pollinators to reproduce, and more than 3,500 species of native bees help increase crop yields.