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Pollinator protections among provisions in ag policy bill

Rep. Samantha Vang, chair of the House Agriculture Finance and Policy Committee, presents the omnibus agriculture policy bill to the committee March 21. (Photo by Andrew VonBank)
Rep. Samantha Vang, chair of the House Agriculture Finance and Policy Committee, presents the omnibus agriculture policy bill to the committee March 21. (Photo by Andrew VonBank)

Trying to keep bee-safe labels from being used on potentially bee-damaging plants is among the provisions included in this year’s omnibus agriculture policy bill.

Unveiled to the House Agriculture Finance and Policy Committee Tuesday, Rep. Samantha Vang (DFL-Brooklyn Center) sponsors HF1587 that, with a delete-all amendment, is expected to be marked up and voted on Thursday.

One provision that sparked discussion earlier this session would prohibit plant sellers from advertising a plant as pollinator friendly with a detectable level of systemic pesticides, which have shown to be harmful to bees and other pollinators.

House committee walks through HF1587, the omnibus agriculture policy bill 3/21/23

According to the nonpartisan House Research Department, current law says a pollinator-friendly label cannot be used if “the concentration of the pesticide in the plant’s flowers exceeds the ‘no observed adverse effect level,’ defined as the Environmental Protection Agency’s acute oral toxicity level for adult honeybees.”

The change to detectable level will have quite an impact on sellers, said Rep. Paul Anderson (R-Starbuck). He also questioned if the Department of Agriculture has capacity, including budget capacity, to perform the testing that would be required.  

Other provisions in the bill would:

  • require the Department of Natural Resources to be notified within 24 hours following the escape of a Eurasian wild pig or Eurasian-domestic hybrid pig to help prevent feral pigs from gaining ground in the state;
  • prohibit confidentially clauses in carbon market contracts signed, amended or renewed after June 30, mirroring language in agriculture production contracts;
  • eliminate a requirement that the Department of Agriculture separately permit the release of genetically modified agricultural organisms that are permitted by federal regulators, although Minnesota could review risk assessments; and
  • allow the DNR to control non-native Phragmites, a tall perennial reed found in freshwater wetlands, in the same way the agency manages purple loosestrife.

Some of the bills included in the omnibus agriculture policy bill, in part or in whole, are:

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