Oklahoma Department of Agriculture Hosts Public Hearing for Pollinator PlanWed, 12 Aug 2015 11:32:50 CDT
The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry (ODAFF) hosted a public hearing Tuesday to gather comments on its proposed pollinator plan. About 80 people gathered for the meeting at Langston University’s campus in Oklahoma City.
A draft pollinator plan for participants to comment on had been posted before the meeting on the www.ag.ok.gov website.
ODAFF announced that efforts to continue to gain input on the proposed pollinator plan will continue through regional public hearings. Those meetings are tentatively scheduled for: 1 p.m., Aug. 26 at the Garfield County OSU Extension Center, 316 E. Oxford in Enid; 1 p.m., Sept. 2 at the Great Plains Technology Center, Building 600, Rooms 655 and 656, 4500 W. Lee Blvd. in Lawton; tentatively scheduled for 1p.m., Sept. 9 at the Tulsa Community College Northeast Campus, in the large auditorium, #1470, 3727 E. Apache St., in Tulsa; and 1 p.m., Sept. 23 at the Kiamichi Technology Center, North Seminar Room, 107 S. 15th St., Hugo.
The public hearing on Tuesday included presentations by: Dr. Don Molnar, entomologist and ODAFF Apiary Program Manager; Kevin Andrews, commercial beekeeper and owner and operator of Andrews Honey Bees; Jimmy Shobert, past President of the Northwest Oklahoma Beekeepers Association, and Dr. Becky Langer- Curry, project manager of North American Bee Health for Bayer CropScience.
A common theme during the meeting was the importance of communication.
“Communication is important between us and the farmers where we actually set our hives on their property,” Andrews said. “That’s because they have control of their property. We’re invited as a guest on their property. And so we keep open communication with them, because I don’t know on an everyday basis what they do as far as managing their land, I just want to make sure that I’m a part of it.
“If we can get good communication between us and he lets us know what he’s doing then I can make sure that I’m involved in it. I can get out of his way or I can stay there depending on what time he’s going to spray or not spray, so that allows us to have a good working relationship.”
Langer-Curry also mentioned the importance of communication.
“Communication is so important,” Langer-Curry said. “Really it’s a community effort between beekeepers, the growers and even the pesticide applicators. If they’re all communicating, that’s a big win.
“Any public forum where people are allowed to bring their concerns, or questions, raises that bar of communication and gets people talking and brainstorming on ways to do things better.
Following the panel’s presentations, comments were taken from the public on the draft pollinator plan drawn up by Dr. Molnar for ODAFF. The Oklahoma State Board of Agriculture will adopt a pollinator plan at a later date.
Pollinators are essential to agriculture in Oklahoma. They are responsible for the success of many of the state’s crops like canola, sesame and watermelons. Native pollinators are also necessary for many native plants like redbud, Oklahoma’s state tree, and Chickasaw plum.
The Oklahoma Managed Pollinator Protection Plan (OKMP3) is being developed in response to a growing need for a balanced public policy that mitigates risk to pollinator species, while minimizing the impact of that mitigation on production agriculture, according to ODAFF.
The goal is reducing pollinator exposure to pesticides without causing undue hardship or economic damage to Oklahoma’s agricultural industry. Additionally, the plan intends to bring awareness of the issues faced by pollinators from pesticides and find a way for everyone to be part of a solution.
Oklahoma’s MP3 is a multifaceted plan involving multiple stakeholders.
These stakeholders include but are not limited to beekeepers, pesticide applicators, farmers and ranchers, ODAFF, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension Service, Oklahoma Department of Transportation, Oklahoma Conservation Commission, Oklahoma Department of Education, Oklahoma county commissioners and the public. Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture Jim Reese said on Tuesday that the list of stakeholders will be expanded.
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