The Millstone Times

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Dancer Bill Prioritizing Healthy Bee, Butterfly, Other Pollinator Populations Cleared By Committee

Assemblyman Ron Dancer wants to help New Jersey farmers feeling the sting from the loss of import- ant pollinators, most notably the honey bee and monarch butterfly, by establishing a year-long task force committed to combating the problem. The Assembly Agriculture Committee voted unanimously to release his bill (AJR102) establishing a 15-member healthy pollinators task force to study ways to increase the population of pollinators and mitigate threats and determine best practices. “New Jersey is one of the top producers of pollinator-dependent crops including blueberries, cranber- ries, tomatoes, apples and more. Pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and other insects are vital to a strong economy and our state’s overall biodiversity,” said Dancer (R-Ocean).

According to Rutgers-led research, crop yields for apples, cherries and blueberries are being reduced by a lack of pollinators. In the U.S., the production of crops that depend on pollinators generates more than $50 billion a year. “We are famous for our agriculture industry and its importance should never be understated,” said Dancer. “A study that would help keep pollinator pop- ulations healthy is needed to support agriculture, and quite appropriate for the Garden State whose state bug is the honey bee.” New Jersey has preserved more than 220,000 acres of farmland as part of its commitment to agriculture and is nationally recognized as an important stop- ping place for monarch butterfly populations as they migrate to and from Mexico. The task force would be charged with developing a pollinator research action plan that would protect and strengthen the health of pollinators such as bees, butterflies, wasps, beetles, bats and birds. A year after forming, the task force would summarize its findings and recommendations in a report to the governor and legislature. This bill is the latest in a series of efforts by Assemblyman Dancer to bolster agriculture by protecting pollinators. Dancer sponsored three bills, now law, making it easier for beekeepers to operate in New Jersey.

54 The Millstone Times

May 2021

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