Farm Bill's Good and Bad Sides

(The following is brought to us by CATCH THE BUZZ (Kim Flottum) Bee Culture, The Magazine of American Beekeeping, published by A.I. Root Company.)

May 24, 2013 

From Michele Colopy, Program Director, National Pollinator Defense Fund

As you know the Farm Bill is working its way through Congress. What is surprising are the number of amendments (there are now over 300). Some are positive, and others appear problematic. Though not all amendments make it to the final Farm Bill please take time to read the following:   

The positive: Senator Barbara Boxer has proposed the following amendment that would:

1.   Create an interagency task force on bee health and commercial beekeeping

2.   Encourage a more proactive approach to protecting pollinator health at U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, U.S. Dept. of the Interior, and the Environmental Protection Agency; and

3.    Require feasibility studies for modernizing one current ARS honey bee research laboratory, and establishing one new ARS pollinator research laboratory.

(See the attached Boxer amendment)

The problematic:

Senate Amendment 984. Senator Fischer, Senator Carper, and Senator Johanns submitted an amendment intended to be proposed by Senator Fischer to Senate bill 954, to reauthorize agricultural programs through 2018; which was ordered to lie on the table; as follows: on page 1050, after line 23, her amendment would add the following:


Section 17(c) of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (7 U.S.C. 136o(c)) is amended-- (1) by striking ``The Secretary'' and inserting the following:``(1) In general.--The Secretary''; and (2) by adding at the end the following:``(2) Importation of seed.--For purposes of this   subsection, seed, including treated seed,shall not be considered to be a pesticide or device. ``(3) Applicability.--Nothing in this subsection precludes or limits the authority of the Secretary of Agriculture with respect to the importation or movement of plants, plant products, or seeds under-- ``(A) the Plant Protection Act (7 U.S.C. 7701 et seq.); and ``(B) the Federal Seed Act (7 U.S.C. 1551 et seq.).''.

Regrettably there have been incidences of bee kills when seed treatment dust has killed bee hives.  It appears that item number 2 of the Fischer amendment codifies seed treatments as a non-application of pesticides. The Farm Bill is moving fast through the Congress.  If seed treatments are not regulated as a “pesticide,” what will be the recourse for bee kills such as the one recently in Minnesota.  For video results of this bee kill select this link,

The Farm Bill reauthorization and amendments such as the Boxer Amendment, and the line concerning seed treatments will be voted upon soon, possibly before the Memorial Day Weekend recess.  Please call or email your Senators and Representatives today, and voice your opinions.