By Lee Ann Schutz
Members of the House Agriculture Policy Committee listen to, and view, a PowerPoint presentation by Department of Agriculture research scientist Raj Mann during an informational hearing on Gov. Mark Dayton's executive order to restore pollinator health in Minnesota. Photo by Andrew VonBank
Farmers were caught off guard by Gov. Mark Dayton’s Aug. 26 executive order calling for steps to reverse the pollinator decline in the state, resulting in Tuesday’s informational hearing of the House Agriculture Policy Committee hoping to give producers clarification on how the order could affect their operations. No action was taken.
The order came shortly after the release of an 18-month study, giving little time for review by the farming industry, said committee chair Rep. Paul Anderson (R-Starbuck).
Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson tried to assure members the order was the governor’s way to “set the table,” and begin a serious discussion on the issue. “Pollinators are indeed in trouble and let’s not forget that, and we need to take some proactive steps in the state.”
Saying Dayton’s response to the issue should not be news, Frederickson cited a 2013 request from the Legislature asking for the report on neonicotinoid use and registration and the February pollinator summit. He has received over 400 public comments. “The governor relied on the work we have been doing over the last 24 months. … What we want to do here is to start a dialogue,” Frederickson said.