(TRENTON) – The Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee on Monday released legislation sponsored by Assemblymen Adam Taliaferro (D-Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem) and Bob Andrzejczak (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland) to help protect the health of pollinators like bees and monarch butterflies, which are in serious decline in this country.
There are several hundred thousand species of flowering plants, many of which cannot grow and reproduce without pollination. Bees, butterflies, wasps, flies, moths, bats, beetles, and birds are all pollinators engaging in this important process that supports a variety of ecosystems on farms, and in wilderness, cities and towns. Insect pollinators such as bees and butterflies are especially important to agriculture in the United States where the value of crops dependent on them was estimated at $15 billion in 2009. Unfortunately, pollinators are in serious decline in the United States and worldwide.
“The decline of pollinators like the honey bee and butterflies threatens agricultural production,” said Taliaferro, who is vice-chair of the committee. “Considering the nutritional and economic impact of such a decline not just on our state, but the country and the world, it is crucial that we develop an action plan to address this before it becomes too big a problem to solve.”
“We are dependent on these pollinator populations for much of our food. We must ensure their health and sustainability so we can continue to meet our own needs,” said Andrzejczak, who chairs the committee. “This is worldwide problem. It’s going to take all of us to do our part to fix it.”
The joint resolution (AJR-144) would establish the Healthy Pollinators Task Force
The 15-member task force would be charged with:
- developing a pollinator research action plan compiling the most useful research and strategies for addressing the problem of protecting and bolstering the health of pollinators, such as bees and monarch butterflies, including, but not limited to, the studies, research, and strategies generally described in the joint resolution;
- developing a public education plan and program to promote public-private partnerships;
- developing recommendations for implementing the pollinator action plan, public education plan, private-public partnerships program, and any beneficial strategies identified by the task force; and
- submitting a report to the governor and the Legislature, within one year after the task force organizes, summarizing the activities and findings of the task force, and setting forth its recommendations.
The task force would be composed of: the Commissioner of Environmental Protection, the Secretary of Agriculture, the Commissioner of Transportation, the Commissioner of Corrections, the State Apiarist, the President of the New Jersey Farm Bureau, one representative from the New Jersey Audubon Society and a recognized statewide environmental organization appointed by the governor, one representative from the New Jersey Green Industry Council and the New Jersey Utilities Association appointed by the Senate president, an apiary entomologist or scientist and a representative from Rutgers appointed by the Assembly speaker, and three members of the general public who have an understanding of the issues for pollinators and their health, including climate change, pesticide use, and diseases affecting pollinators appointed by the governor, the Senate president and the Assembly speaker.
The task force would dissolve 180 days after submitting its report.
Taliaferro and Andrzejczak also sponsored a bill (A-3403) to designate the Common Eastern Bumble Bee, which is native to New Jersey and vital to working farms as key pollinators of blueberries, cranberries, tomatoes and peppers, as the New Jersey State Native Pollinator.