New York Farm Bureau part of Coalition Opposing Birds and Bees Act
S.1856 prohibits use of treated seeds, which will impact crop production but will do nothing to protect pollinators
(Albany, N.Y.) Today, members of the Senate Standing Committee on Environmental Conversation advanced legislation that if passed could have a disastrous impact on New York’s multi-billion dollar agriculture industry, which ultimately could raise costs for consumers for everything from dairy products to produce and meat and eggs. S.1856 bans the use of neonicotinoid products, including treated seeds.
Committee Chair, Senator Pete Harckham moved the bill to the floor with amendments promised to follow later in the week. He stated the amendments came from farmers. However, no members of the agricultural community have seen any proposed amendments at this time.
“In a time where New York’s farmers are facing unprecedented business and regulatory challenges, the notion of eliminating safe and stringently regulated crop protection products is short-sighted at best and potentially devastating for some farms that we depend on to feed us. Moreover, it would mean a return to less environmentally friendly agricultural practices to fight off pests," said David Fisher, New York Farm Bureau President.
Seed treatments play a critical role in agriculture and the production of healthy crops. Coating seeds with a small amount of pesticides prior to planting protects seedlings when they are most vulnerable to disease and insects. Now, more than ever, treated seeds are increasingly important as New York works to improve soil health and address climate change.
“Each growing season comes with a level of uncertainty—will there be too much rain or not enough? Will it be too hot or too cold? In a business where there’s much we can’t control, treated seeds give us a level of certainty that we’re giving our farm a good shot at a successful harvest,” said Brian Reeves, President of the New York State Vegetable Growers Association.
Eliminating use of these tools will negatively impact the state’s carbon footprint, requiring additional tractor passes or product to be applied. The increased tillage to fight pests would also release more carbon into the air, a step backwards on the soil health initiatives that farms are increasingly adopting.
Neonicotinoids are also important tools in integrated pest management (IPM), a rigorous process used by applicators to successfully manage pests. Prohibiting these technologies would disrupt IPM practices, and force farmers and applicators to consider managing pests with older chemistries that could require additional application and have lower safety profiles.
New York has a rigorous pesticide review and regulatory process. A complete elimination of a class of agricultural products will cause undue complications for New York farmers, who already operate on razor thin margins and who are facing new challenges each growing season due to climate change and other challenges beyond their control.
“The tools farmers use to grow their crops should not be decided on the floor of the state Senate or Assembly, but rather by scientists, regulators and farmers themselves who carefully monitor, research and regulate these cutting-edge agricultural advancements.” said Jim Bittner, of Singer Orchards and Executive Director of the New York State Horticultural Society.
Neonics have been found to be among the most effective tools to combat invasive species like the Spotted Lantern Fly, the Emerald Ash Borer and the Asian Long Horned Beetle.
Proponents of S.1856 say they are working to protect pollinators; however in New York, pesticides are not near the top of stressors impacting pollinators.
Recent findings from a USDA National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS) report shows that as of 2022, the impact of pesticides on honey bee colonies in New York was negligible. A far more worrisome stressor to honeybee colonies is the varroa mite.
Members of the Senate must reject this flawed piece of legislation.