Timing his memorandum to coincide with National Pollinator Week, President Obama directed federal agencies to prioritize the health of honey bees and other pollinators in their research, land management, education, and public-private partnerships. Citing the economic value and declining population of pollinators, the President also created a new Pollinator Health Task Force, naming Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy as heads.
“Honey bee pollination alone adds more than $15 billion in value to agricultural crops each year in the United States,” said the White House. However, the United States Department of Agriculture found that the number of managed honey bee colonies has dropped 58 percent nationwide since 1947. Citing this “significant loss of pollinators, including honey bees, native bees, birds, bats, and butterflies,” the memo stated that the health of pollinators is in need of “immediate attention to ensure the sustainability of our food production systems.”
The key directive of the task force will be to create a national pollinator health strategy within 180 days. The strategy will include a research plan, proposal for public education, and recommendations for public-private partnerships to protect pollinators and their habitats.
The full Presidential Memo can be found at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-06-24/html/2014-14946.htm.
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