Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture

06/20/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 06/21/2024 00:18

Agriculture Secretary Visits Chester County’s Jenkins Arboretum, Highlighting Bill to Protect Pollinators, Boost Agriculture

Agriculture Secretary Visits Chester County's Jenkins Arboretum, Highlighting Bill to Protect Pollinators, Boost Agriculture

06/20/2024

Plant and Pollinator Protection bill in Senate would protect pollinators critical to food supply and Pennsylvania economy.

Devon, PA - Today, Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding and Senator Carolyn Comitta met at Jenkins Arboretum and Gardens in Chester County to discuss and see how Senate Bill 1193Opens In A New Window, the Plant and Pollinator Protection Act, will benefit food production, plant nurseries, and beekeepers, as well as Pennsylvania's economy.

Pennsylvania's nursery and landscaping industry generates $4.1 billion for the state economy and is responsible for more than 63,000 jobs. More than 80% of flowering plants must be pollinated to reproduce. This includes apples, peaches, tomatoes, berries, pumpkins, grapes, and many other high-value Pennsylvania crops.

"Some of our favorite foods rely on pollinators," Secretary Redding said. "In so many of our communities, our jobs and livelihoods revolve around producing those foods. Protecting pollinators is more than just making sure we have beautiful flowers, butterflies, and honey - it's making sure we can produce food in the future."

Pennsylvania has had a Bee Law since 1921 and a Plant Pest Law since 1937. Both laws include measures to protect pollinators from disease, and Pennsylvania's nurseries and retail plant businesses from costly pests and disease. Senator Comitta, who serves on the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, is prime sponsor of Senate Bill 1193Opens In A New Window, which combines these outdated laws, replacing them with measures that reflect today's environmental and economic climate and risks.

"Pollinators have a mighty impact in helping keep our families healthy, our farms strong, and our local gardens flourishing. The way we view and protect them has changed. Now, it's time to update and improve our laws to follow suit," said Senator Comitta. "I am glad to join our partners in introducing this legislation to better protect bees and all pollinators from harmful pests, pathogens, and other threats."

"Native pollinators are the unsung heroes of our ecosystems, ensuring the health and diversity of our plants and crops," said Jenkins Arboretum & Gardens Executive Director Tom Smarr. "Public gardens like Jenkins support pollinators by offering a haven of native plants that protect biodiversity, secure our food sources, and enhance the health and well-being of our communities."

The bill would:

  • Help reduce pesticide use;
  • Broaden protections for pollinators beyond honeybees to consider butterflies, bats and other valuable pollinators threatened by disease and pests;
  • Enable state quality assurance verifications, increasing domestic and international trade opportunities for Pennsylvania businesses;
  • Base business inspections on threats posed by specific pests and disease - taking a proactive, preventative approach based on risk, and;
  • Adjust inspection, certification, and testing fees to reflect current costs and increase customer service.

Pennsylvania's agriculture and food industry contributes $132.5 billion annually to our state economy and supports more than 593,000 jobs across the state.

Pennsylvania leads the nation in the number of floriculture businesses - those that produce garden and bedding plants, potted plants, and cut flowers. The state ranks fourth in the nation in apple and peach production.

Governor Josh Shapiro's budget invests in Pennsylvania's national legacy as a leader in agriculture. The Governor's new Economic Development StrategyOpens In A New Windowrecognizes agriculture along with life sciences, manufacturing, robotics, technology, and energy as key to Pennsylvania's future economic success.

Learn about investments in a strong future for Pennsylvania agriculture at shapirobudget.pa.govOpens In A New Window.

Contact: Shannon Powers - [email protected], 717.603.2056​

# # #