State pollinator plan released

BISMARCK – Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring says a new North Dakota Pollinator Plan plan has been developed to help farmers, ranchers, landowners and beekeepers better protect honeybees while enabling cultivation practices necessary for modern agriculture.

“The plan is now available on the homepage of the North Dakota Department of Agriculture (NDDA) website, and I encourage all stakeholders to download a copy,” Goehring said.

The website is www.nd.gov/ndda.

Goehring said the plan was developed in response to a growing need for a balanced public policy that reduces risk to honeybees, while minimizing the impact of that mitigation on production agriculture.

“It is completely non-regulatory,” he said. “It contains Best Management Practices and other proactive measures and ideas to help agricultural producers and beekeepers find common ground, all on a voluntary basis.”

He also said the plan is open to revision and change.

“The pollinator plan is not a static document, but a work in progress,” Goehring said. “We intend to revisit it annually and update it as needed.”

The plan is largely based on information gathered at a meeting last fall and at a statewide pollinator summit of beekeepers, growers, pesticide applicators, crop consultants, and other stakeholders, convened by Goehring in July. Following the summit, he directed staff from NDDA's pesticide and fertilizer and plant protection divisions to prepare the draft.

North Dakota has been the nation's leading honey-producing state for the past decade. In 2012, the state produced 34.2 million pounds of honey from 495,000 colonies. The value of the honey crop was $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.