Gov. Mark Dayton seems to have blindsided people in the agriculture business by issuing an executive order restricting the use of some neonicotinoid chemicals routinely used by farmers.
This surprising announcement – made at the State Fair – was reminiscent of when the governor broke the news of his push to surround our state’s waters with buffer strips while speaking to a group of pheasant hunters.
This time, the governor is looking to implement new regulations regarding chemicals used to treat seed corn and soybeans in addition to spraying for soybean aphids later in the crop season.
This order seemed to come out of the blue; legislators had no forewarning. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture recently concluded an 18-month study neonicotinoids. That appears to be the catalyst for the governor’s announcement, but it should be noted many people – including ag leaders in the House – have yet to see the results of the study.
Many questions remain, especially since the federal government regulates the use of ag chemicals. Legislative action may be required to limit the use of neonics.
A top concern in the ag community is the governor’s order includes language requiring farmers to verify they face “an imminent threat of significant crop loss” before using the chemical. Maybe that could be accomplished when you are treating for insects that can be counted, but it is unknown how farmers would be able to justify chemically treating seed corn that is planted in April. It would be difficult for a farmer to bear that burden of potential crop-loss proof.
It is good discussions are taking place to address the falloff in our bee population. This is a significant, complex issue and a number of factors are having an impact. Of course, farmers want to do their part in protecting our pollinators. The focus should be on collaborating and applying sound scientific findings to develop solutions instead of handing down unilateral executive orders that seem to leave us with more questions than answers and put ou farmers on a slippery slope.
Please let me know if you have any questions or would like to provide me with input on this issue as we work toward resolutions that accomplish our goals without threatening to damage the ag industry in our state.
Rep. Bud Nornes