Minnesota corn farmer testifies at pollinator and neonic hearing

A legislative hearing last week focused on Gov. Mark Dayton’s recent executive order on protecting pollinators, specifically a section of the order that requires farmers to prove that they face “imminent danger of significant crop loss” before they can make foliar applications of neonictinoids. MDA is also requesting regulatory authority of treated seeds.

Brian Thalmann, a fifth-generation farmer near Plato, Minn., and a director on the Minnesota Corn Growers Association board, was the lone farmer to testify at the hearing.

“I wanted to share my perspective – how I use neonics on my farm, and how I ensure I’m as careful and conscientious as possible with my practices,” Thalmann said. “I understand pollinators play an important role for all of us, including those of us in agriculture.”

Some recent academic studies have identified neonics as one of many factors contributing to declines in bee populations. However, policy actions that result in reductions to one pest management tool could lead to increased use of other pesticides which may be more toxic to pollinators, animals, and people.

Brian Thalmann

Brian Thalmann

Thalmann provided insight to legislators at the hearing about the practices he uses on his farm, including his careful use of seeds treated with neonics. He said that seeds treated with insecticides are the best way to control insect damage to crops, especially today when most farmers work to protect soil health by not burying the residue left on their fields following harvest.

“I don’t want to go back to using other, more harmful products if it’s unclear whether or not this will cause pollinator health to improve,” Thalmann said. “Research is a huge component to understanding & improving pollinator health. That’s why MCGA supported farming-related pollinator research at the University of Minnesota Bee Lab. We’ve also worked to communicate with farmers about ways to make their farms more pollinator-friendly.”

The entire hearing, including Thalmann’s testimony, can be viewed here.

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