During National Pollinator Week, Merkley Unveils New Proposal to Help Restore Pollinator Populations Across the U.S.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, during National Pollinator Week, Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley unveiled a new proposal to help restore pollinator populations across America.

The Pollinator Recovery Act of 2016 was released today as a discussion draft and will be formally introduced later this Congress. The discussion draft will provide the public and stakeholders with the opportunity to engage in the legislative process and comment on key policy provisions in the bill. This draft bill will also serve as the basis for continued debate in Congress about impactful, long-term policy solutions that protect vulnerable pollinator species across America.

“So much of the food we take for granted every day arrives on our plate thanks to a pollinator,” said Merkley. “It’s easy to forget about the critical role pollinators play in our food systems. But if we’re not careful, we will only realize their importance when it’s too late and our agricultural industry has been decimated by their disappearance. Let’s take action now instead.”

From honey bees and migratory monarch butterflies to birds and bats, America’s pollinator species are experiencing increasing rates of annual colony loss and general population declines across the country. This is especially troubling since pollinators are responsible for one out of every three bites of food we eat. Additionally, farmers rely on commercial honey bees and over 4,000 species of wild, native pollinating insects to produce a variety of crops.

Through this bill, agencies within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) would be able to more effectively coordinate interagency and interdepartmental efforts to restore and enhance pollinator habitat.

Specifically, key provisions of the bill include:

  • A requirement that USDA and partner federal agencies coordinate efforts to expand the acreage of beneficial forage and habitat for pollinators by a total of 3 million acres;
  • Statutory flexibility for USDA to adopt planting strategies that are regionally appropriate and offer high quality forage specific to managed and/or wild, native pollinator species;
  • Competitive grant funding opportunities for the development and implementation of innovative best management practices for the specialty crop sector;
  • Financial incentives and technical assistance for agricultural producers that adopt pollinator-friendly pest and vegetation management practices, including a new Conservation Biological Control practice;
  • Modernized authorizing language for intramural and extramural pollinator research and grant funding programs focusing on the greatest threats to managed honey bees and wild pollinators; and
  • Establishment of an intramural native pollinator surveillance program and an extramural grant funding program for pollinator health monitoring and population tracking.

To see the full text of today’s discussion draft, click here.