State pollinator plan now online

BISMARCK – Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring has implemented the new North Dakota Pollinator Plan to better protect honeybees while enabling cultivation practices necessary for modern agriculture.

“The final version is now on the North Dakota Department of Agriculture (NDDA) website,” Goehring said. “I encourage all stakeholders – farmers, ranchers, landowners and beekeepers -- to download a copy and give it careful consideration.”

The website is www.nd.gov/ndda.                                               

Goehring said the plan is voluntary and completely non-regulatory.

“The plan was developed to a growing demand for balanced public policy to reduce risk to honeybees, while minimizing the impact of that mitigation on production agriculture,” he said. “It includes Best Management Practices and other proactive measures and practices to help agricultural producers and beekeepers find common ground.”

Last July, Goehring convened the first statewide pollinator summit of beekeepers, growers, pesticide applicators, crop consultants, and other stakeholders. Taking testimony and other information presented at the summit, he directed staff from NDDA's pesticide and plant protection divisions to prepare a draft of the plan. The draft was published in December and was opened for public comment.

“The feedback we received was favorable,” he said. “We made some small revisions in the draft, mostly to clarify the language.”

Goehring said the document remains subject to change.

“It's not a static document,” he said. “We intend to revisit and update it as needed.”

For the past decade, North Dakota has led the nation in honey-production. In 2012, the state produced 34.2 million pounds of honey from 495,000 colonies. The honey crop was valued at $64.6 million.

Nationally, beekeepers have struggled to maintain healthy honeybee colonies. In addition to bee health problems, some beekeepers have also experienced a widespread disappearance of bees, commonly referred to as colony collapse disorder. The factors blamed for decreasing health and colony collapse disorder include stress due to environmental changes, malnutrition, pests, parasites, disease, pesticide exposure, lack of genetic diversity and migratory beekeeping.