Casey to Feds: Update Action Plan on Honeybees to Protect Pennsylvania Jobs

Substantial Loss of Bee Colonies Places at Risk PA’s $57 Billon Agriculture Industry

30% of Managed Honeybee Population Lost Last Winter

Washington, DC - As a loss of the U.S. honeybee population continues, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), today, sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Environmental Protection (EPA) urging the agencies to update the federal action plan on how to mitigate honeybee population loss. The rapidly declining honeybee population could have a substantial impact on Pennsylvania’s $57 billion agriculture industry. In Pennsylvania, farmers grow a number of pollinated crops, including apples, pumpkins and potatoes, all of which support jobs and economic growth.

“Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry is a major driver of economic growth and job creation across the Commonwealth,” Senator Casey said. “Helping our state’s farmers grapple with the declining honeybee population will aid our state’s economy and help our farmers continue to support economic growth.”

In Pennsylvania, farmers grow many pollinated crops, such as apples, pumpkins and potatoes. In the United States, pollination by honey bees, native bees, and other insects produces $40 billion worth of products annually. Globally, pollinators are used to produce approximately one-third of the food supply, a value of between $200 and $300 billion. The U.S. lost 30% of its managed honeybee colonies this winter.

The text of Senator Casey’s letter to Secretary Vilsack can be found below:

The Honorable Tom Vilsack
Secretary
U.S. Department of Agriculture

The Honorable Bob Perciasepe
Acting Administrator and Deputy Administrator
U.S. Department of Environmental Protection

Dear Mr. Secretary and Mr. Perciasepe:

I am extremely concerned about the substantial loss of bee colonies due to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Pollinators play an extremely important role in agriculture. In Pennsylvania, farmers grow many pollinated crops, such as apples, pumpkins and potatoes. In the United States, pollination by honey bees, native bees, and other insects produces $40 billion worth of products annually. Globally, pollinators are used to produce approximately one-third of the food supply, a value of between $200 and $300 billion. The U.S. has lost over 30% of its managed honeybee colonies. I urge your Departments to revise the CCD Action Plan expeditiously, so that the most effective strategy to address honey bee losses is in place as soon as possible.

Finding no distinct cause for the honeybee deaths, the recently released “Report on the National Stakeholders Conference on Honey Bee Health” stressed the importance of additional scientific research. Research teams at The Pennsylvania State University’s Center for Pollinator Research offer excellent resources to assist the study of causes and solutions to CCD. Understanding the potential stressors contributing to CCD, including parasites, pathogens, environmental toxins, poor nutrition and habitat loss, is critical to reversing and eliminating the harmful effects of CCD. I encourage your Departments to continue working closely with The Pennsylvania State University on this important issue.

I appreciate the work of your Departments and the collaborative work with academia and stakeholder groups. It is imperative to long-term agricultural productivity that CCD is addressed. 

Thank you for your attention to this matter. I look forward to working with you.

Sincerely,

Robert P. Casey Jr.
United States Senator

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