Last June, the White House announced it was establishing a Pollinator Health Task Force to investigate the nation's honeybee decline. Fast forward nearly a year later, the Obama administration has finally released their 10-year plan called the National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators, and it's a plan we can get behind.
Under leadership of the EPA and USDA, the Task Force outlined three overarching goals in its Strategy:
- Reduce honey bee colony losses to economically sustainable levels;
- Increase monarch butterfly numbers to protect the annual migration; and
- Restore or enhance millions of acres of land for pollinators through combined public and private action.
Specifically, the plan aims to cut honey bee colony losses to no more than 15% during winter, bump the Eastern population of the monarch butterfly to 225 million, and make 7 million acres of land more pollinator-friendly. The Task Force will also reevaluate the effects of neonicotinoids, which have been implicated in the country's bee decline.
The ambitious plan will require $82 million of the 2016 budget, but before you cringe, hear them out: honey bees and other pollinators are critical to our economy, food security, and environmental health. According to the White House:
Honey bee pollination alone adds more than $15 billion in value to agricultural crops each year, and helps ensure that our diets include ample fruits, nuts, and vegetables. This tremendously valuable service is provided to society by honey bees, native bees and other insect pollinators, birds, and bats.
Not only that, the President has put out a call for "all hands on deck" to help promote pollinator health. Get ready, people, we're all in this together!
People of all ages and communities across the country can play a role in responding to the President's call to action. YOU can share some land with pollinators — bees, butterflies, other insects, birds, bats — by planting a pollinator garden or setting aside some natural habitat. YOU can think carefully before applying any pesticides and always follow the label instructions. YOU can find out more about the pollinator species that live near you.