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“The Birds and Bees Act” signed into New York State law, Farm Bureau approved

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NYS Senator George Borrello objects, read statement

By Andrew Harris

The “Birds and Bees” Protection Act is now law in the Empire State, one of a flurry of signatures from NY Governor Kathy Hochul as the year comes to a close. The law is best explained by this statement from the Governor’s Office:

“Legislation S.1856-A/A.7640 is a proactive measure to protect pollinators by restricting the use of neonicotinoid pesticides on certain seeds, outdoor ornamental plants, and turf. It allows sufficient time for innovative research on alternatives and the development of more cost-effective products that are less harmful to the environment. After this period, the use of neonicotinoids will be subject to science-based evaluations and waiver provisions to assist farm and agriculture operations in the transition to this new program.”

The law, named after its most notable beneficiaries, strikes a cord with most New Yorkers.

Banning the use of neoinsecticides is a big win for environmental efforts to curb the loss of pollinating insects and birds like the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird. Honeybee keepers have long sounded the alarm over the use of certain pest sprays, linking them to hive-abandonment syndrome.

Farmers who rely on neoinsecticides have a different perspective. Without them, entire crops could be lost to insect damage, risking family farms mere existence. The realities of crop insurance and certain invasive insects like the spotted lantern fly loom over that perspective.

In a statement from Governor after signing the law:

“By signing the Birds and Bees Protection Act, New York is taking a significant stride in protecting our kids, environment and essential pollinators,” Governor Hochul said. “This law underscores our commitment to fostering a thriving ecosystem while we prioritize sustainable farming and agricultural practices.”

Based on the reaction from NYS Farm Bureau President David Fisher, the new legislation is a product of good faith negotiations between NY agricultural interests and the Governor. He praised Governor Hochul in a statement:

“New York Farm Bureau greatly appreciates Governor Hochul’s leadership in offering thoughtful chapter amendments on the “Birds and Bees Protection Act.” She sought input from all sides and reached consensus on a balanced approach that ensures farms will have safe risk management tools that they need to grow food for our state. New York Farm Bureau also is pleased about the continued role the Department of Environmental Conservation will have in consultation with the Department of Agriculture and Markets to make science based regulatory decisions. The Governor once again demonstrated her willingness to find a reasonable pathway forward to support New York agriculture.”

State Senator George Borrello, a Ranking member of the NYS Senate Agricultural Committee, has a different take on the new law. He chided the Governor for caving to radical interests and making it impossible to do business in New York State. Read Borrello’s full statement below :

STATEMENT FROM SENATOR GEORGE BORRELLO ON GOVERNOR HOCHUL’S SIGNING OF ‘BIRDS AND BEES’ MEASURE

 ALBANY – In response to Governor Hochul’s signing of the Birds and Bees Protection Act (S.1856/A.3226), Senator George Borrello, Ranking Member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, issued the following statement:   

“In signing the ‘Birds and Bees’ Act, Governor Hochul has caved, once again, to the radical special interests that currently dominate Albany and dealt another blow to struggling New York farmers. This is a decision that has been made without key stakeholders in the conversation and one where a political agenda has come before facts. Both scenarios have become all too common in recent years.

The seed treatment technology that has been senselessly banned under this new law helped farmers optimize crop yield and quality and allowed them to greatly reduce the large-scale spraying of older, more toxic and environmentally harmful pesticides. Today’s decision turns back the clock on that progress.

Agriculture is one of New York’s most vital industries, but it is steadily being harmed by politically-driven policies coming out of Albany. As we lose more small family farms to the state’s unsustainable requirements, New Yorkers’ fresh, local food options will shrink and be replaced with lower quality products imported from other states and countries who aren’t constrained by extreme policies. Ultimately, it will be New Yorkers who pay the steepest price for this misguided decision and all the others that are making farming a financially impossible livelihood in this state.”

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