Gillibrand pushes USDA to revive NY bee population, strengthen farms

By WBNG News

Gillibrand pushes USDA to revive NY bee population, strengthen farms

February 28, 2014 Updated Feb 28, 2014 at 12:45 PM EDT

(WBNG Binghamton) New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, this week called on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to bolster its efforts to revive New York’s bee population after a year when beekeepers lost on average 30 percent of their hives to Colony Collapse Disorder -- hurting New York farms' ability to pollinate crops.

According to a news release from Gillibrand's office:

Earlier this month, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack directed $3 million to study bee losses in the Midwest. Senator Gillibrand is urging the USDA to expand their investigation to New York and the Northeast.

“New York’s farms rely on a strong and healthy bee population to pollinate our fruit and vegetable crops,” Senator Gillibrand said. “The alarming decline of the bee population comes at a steep price for our environment, our farms, and our economy. It is critical for the USDA make this investment here in New York to respond to Colony Collapse Disorder, and help revive New York’s farms.”

New York State has an estimated 52,000 beehives, each of which produce approximately 51 pounds of honey, ranking the state the tenth in honey production. Bee pollination supports blueberries, cherries, squash and other fruit and vegetables. Apple trees require two to three hives per acre to pollinate. Bee pollination adds an estimated $300 million value to a $4.4 billion agriculture industry in New York.

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