There’s no industry more important to New York State than agriculture. Agriculture is an economic driver, paying close to a billion dollars in wages in recent years, but the reality is much more basic than that. Farmers feed us and our families. They sustain us, and, as a crop consultant, I have the privilege of assisting them in that pursuit. That is why legislation on the table in Albany is so worrisome to those of us who work to support agricultural interests in the state.
S.1856(Hoylman-Sigal)/A.3226 (Glick) will prohibit the sale or use of any neonicotinoid products (neonics), including treated corn, soybean or wheat seed in New York. Advocates for this legislation incorrectly believe that neonics are negatively impacting the environment and causing population declines in pollinators. If studies truly showed a direct negative correlation, regulating agencies would ban their use. We need to allow science instead of sensationalism dictate policy.
People are also reading…
Seed treatments play a critical role in agriculture and the production of healthy crops. Coating seeds with a small amount of pesticides prior to planting protects them when they are most vulnerable to insect damage. New agricultural technologies, like treated seeds, have greatly improved farmers’ ability to directly target pests and reduce the need for additional spraying of pesticides. Because seed treatments are applied directly to the seed, rather than sprayed, the exposure to nontarget plants, animals and humans is minimized.
Additionally, neonicotinoids, particularly neonic-based seed coatings, play a large part in not only farmers’ pest management strategies, but in their soil health management plans. Following best management practices for soil health is important for sequestering carbon, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, storing water and helping make land more resilient to climate change. Having this tool available allows farmers to keep a growing crop on the land year-round to reduce the chance of soil erosion and encourage beneficial subsurface animals, such as earthworms, to inhabit the fields.
This creates a healthy soil environment for crop production. Without the seed treatments, farmers would be forced to till the soil more aggressively to break the pest cycles, and, in turn, reduce soil health.
Successful farmers understand the importance of soil health. It’s a foundation for growing good crops. Our organization works with more than 400 growers across Western and Central New York. I walk the fields with these farming families, many of whom have been tending the earth for generations. They love the work they do and the land that lets them do it. To allege that these farmers would use products that harm the earth or the pollinators that help their crops grow is absurd and insulting.
Through the use of neonicotinoids and their precise application, the implementation of other soil-friendly practices is increasing across the state. This is good news, and something that legislators should continue to encourage.
If farmers are robbed of this technological advancement, they will be forced to revert to less environmentally friendly soil practices. This will reduce crop production, requiring more land for the same amount of produce; increase erosion potential, fuel usage and the carbon footprint; and force the use of additional chemical spray applications.
What I hear from the field is tremendous concern that farms will continue to lose access to crop protection tools such as neonicotinoids. This is a barrier to farmers’ continued and further adoption of soil health practices. Such restrictions or bans, not based upon a science and risk-based regulatory review, would have numerous negative consequences.
I urge members of the New York Legislature to reject this proposal, listen to the science and protect our farms and the environment.
David DeGolyer is executive managing consultant for Western New York Crop Management Association Cooperative.
- Scientists May Have Discovered the Secret to a Healthy Heart (And It's Not Running)
- Helping more Florida families thrive by growing KidCare program
- Pro skater opens recovery center, uses skateboarding to help some overcome addiction
- Local apple farmers help bring national Apples4Ed grant to elementary school - School News Network
- Stark Tech seeks help to relocate and expand to Tonawanda