(TRENTON) — Assembly Democrats Robert Andrzejczak (D-Cape May), Marlene Caride (D-Bergen) and Vincent Mazzeo (D-Atlantic) issued a multimedia package Tuesday on a six-bill package they sponsored to protect and promote New Jersey’s beekeeping industry and the vital role it plays in the state’s agricultural community.
The package, spearheaded by Andrzejczak, chairman of the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, is comprised of the following bills:
- A-1294: Extends protections under the state “Right to Farm Act” to commercial beekeepers that produce honey or other agricultural or horticultural apiary-related products, or provide pollination services that total more than $10,000 annually;
- A-1295: Prohibits any municipality in the state from regulating the breeding or keeping of honey bees and any related activities, including the use of the bees for pollination, reproduction and sale of the bees, or the production of honey or other apiary products;
- A-1256: Establishes a civil penalty of up to $500 any time a person intentionally destroys a man-made native bee hive;
- A-2180: Designates the common eastern bumble bee (bombus impatiens), a native species key to the pollination of blueberries, cranberries, tomatoes, and peppers, as the New Jersey State Native Pollinator;
- AR-71: Urges New Jersey state residents to support local beekeepers by purchasing Jersey Fresh honey and honey products; and
- AJR-51: Designates a state-wide “Pollinator Week,” that would coincide with “National Pollinator Week,” as indicated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. If no such week is designated at the federal level, “Pollinator Week” would occur the week beginning on the third Monday in June.
The multimedia package consists of a video of the members discussing the bill package and audio and a transcript of same.
The audio file is available upon request.
A transcript of comments from the members is appended below.
Assemblyman Robert Andrzejczak (D-Cape May), Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee Chairman:
“Essentially, bee keeping is farming, but it’s just a different form of farming. It’s a whole different crop. Rather than fruits and vegetables, you’re harvesting honey.
“These bills that are up, really to help out, not only the bee keepers, but also to bring recognition to the industry of bee keeping and really make the general public aware of how important the bees are to the state.”
Assemblywoman Marlene Caride (D-Bergen), Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee Vice-Chairwoman:
“Well, the reason that it’s important is because the honey bee is vital to our economy here in New Jersey.
“Aside from the fact that it contributes annually to our revenues, it also helps to make sure that we continue to be the third in the country as far as cranberry growth and sale. It contributes to a lot of the produce that we grow here in New Jersey. The honey bee is vital to make sure that we can continue to farm vegetables and fruits in the State of New Jersey.”
Assemblyman Vincent Mazzeo (D-Atlantic):
“Our fruits and vegetables, as you know, are known throughout the country and our state – Jersey Fresh. Without the bees, this wouldn’t be possible.
“There’s been proven health benefits of buying honey locally to help with allergies, common cold, and things of that nature. So it’s very important that people understand this and keep buying Jersey Fresh honey.”
“Being able to include honey in that is very important. So, when the bees pollinate, to make the honey, they’re actually using the nectar from what they’re gathering from the crops. So, the Jersey Fresh honey is actually coming from the Jersey Fresh produce.”
“Supporting these bills was very easy for me because I am in the fresh fruits and vegetables business. And, in our store, we sell local honey.”
“Honey bee keepers, honey bee farmers should be treated as our farmers here in the State of New Jersey because of their contribution to the actual growth of all of our produce here in the state. They should not be singled out or treated differently. They’re generating revenues, they’re helping to produce vegetables and fruits here in the state.
“And they should be treated the same; given the same ability to run their business here in New Jersey. Because a honey bee is a business. It is a revenue generating business.”