Follow-up hearing on bees in the works
E&E Daily, by Tiffany Stecker
The House Agriculture Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture and Research will hold a second hearing on pollinators, the chairman of the subpanel said yesterday.
The hearing's witness list will include those who stand to be affected by the Obama administration's recent strategy to stave off a decline in honeybees, monarch butterflies and other insects that help disperse pollen between plants, said Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) in an interview with E&E Daily. Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.), who heads the Democrats on the subcommittee, criticized the first hearing on pollinators for the lack of input from beekeepers, scientists, farmers and others who depend on pollinators.
"My ranking member wants stakeholders to come in and talk about stakeholders being part of this debate; I too agree," Davis said.
Last week's hearing on pollinators centered on a perceived disagreement between the Agriculture Department and U.S. EPA -- the leading agencies on the White House Task Force on Pollinator Health -- over an EPA analysis that found that neonicotinoid seed treatments for soybeans offered few benefits to farmers. Neonicotinoids, a class of insecticides linked to bee declines, are widely used in agriculture. Representatives from EPA and USDA denied any friction between them (E&E Daily, May 14).
The White House released its much-anticipated report Tuesday after a five-month delay (E&E Daily, May 19). Davis defended his move to hold a hearing before the release.
"I didn't want anyone to take away from the hearing the other day that this was just an attempt to try and pit one agency against another," he said. "It was a true concern of ours that the report had not been released. ... The USDA and EPA on record had a disagreement over these very important issues, and I'm glad they were able to work together."
Davis didn't confirm whether he would introduce legislation on the issue, but he said he would discuss possible legislation with the House Agriculture Committee and "see if any new ideas come up, based on the report that was just released."
The subpanel's last chairman, Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.), introduced a bill last year that would have expedited the registration process for pest controls for the Varroa mite, a parasite that kills bees (E&E Daily, Sept. 12, 2014).