Recent Press Releases

Washington, D.C. —  Senator John Thune (R-SD) today participated in a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing on the rapid loss of honeybee colonies due to the mysterious Colony Collapse Disorder. Senator Thune questioned Mark Brady, the President of the American Honey Producers Association, concerning the impact of the honeybee decimation on the pollination process that is essential to the sustenance of several U.S. crops, including fruit, vegetables and other specialty crops. You can access a video clip from the hearing above.

South Dakota is the fourth-largest honey producing state, with over 10 million pounds of annual honey production. Each year, South Dakota honeybees are transported to states across the country to pollinate crops. Pollination from honeybees contributes $15 billion to our domestic agriculture industry annually. According to the U.S. Agricultural Research Service, about one-third of the U.S. diet depends on pollination, which is mostly performed by honeybees.

"As one of the largest honey producers in the nation, South Dakota is experiencing firsthand the negative impact of the Colony Collapse Disorder, which is eliminating 40-60 percent of hives in South Dakota and several other states across the country. As this mysterious disorder continues to wipe out honeybee colonies, the losses are harming not only our nation's honey producers, but various sectors of our agriculture sector that rely on honeybee pollination to sustain their crops," Thune said.

"Today I had the opportunity to hear from Mark Brady, the President of the American Honey Producers Association, and ask him directly about the efforts underway to understand and stop this disorder, along with his thoughts on the impact it will have on the 2007 domestic honey crop and pollination needs. Mr. Brady reiterated the gravity of the Colony Collapse Disorder and the need for Congress to stay vigilant in supporting scientific research into its causes and the producers who are suffering from rapid losses. Mr. Brady also noted the need to implement an insurance program that would protect honey producers from the loss or destruction of bee colonies."

Senator Thune also recently signed a letter to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Mike Johanns inquiring into the steps the USDA is taking to combat the Colony Collapse Disorder. Click here for a PDF copy of the letter.

A honey insurance pilot program was authorized as part of the Agriculture Risk Protection Act of 2000. This pilot program was funded in 2005, but has yet to be implemented. In February, Senator Thune cosigned a letter to the USDA requesting the timely implementation of the honey insurance pilot program. Such a program would greatly benefit honey producers dealing with Colony Collapse Disorder. Click here for a PDF copy of the letter.