ALEXANDRIA, Va. — With the start of spring, an agriculture industry collaboration led by Growing Matters wants everyone to be “BeSure!” when using neonicotinoid products on farms and urban landscapes — kicking off its third annual stewardship awareness campaign to promote best management practices.
The BeSure! campaign uses a wide range of media channels including print, radio, digital and social media to remind farmers, crop protection applicators, agricultural supply retailers and others to ensure label directions and responsible stewardship measures are followed for neonicotinoid products, minimizing any potential impact on pollinators and other wildlife.
“We are pleased to be partnering once again with the BeSure! campaign that has reached millions of farmers, applicators, retailers and other agricultural industry stakeholders since it began,” said Bethany Shively, vice president of strategic communications for the American Seed Trade Association, one of the numerous industry organizations partnering with Growing Matters, a coalition of companies that is spearheading the BeSure! initiative.
“BeSure! complements ASTA’s ongoing outreach efforts around the value of seed treatments and the importance of following proper guidelines at every step of the process — including treating, handling, transporting, planting and disposal.”
In addition to ASTA, the campaign has been endorsed by the National Corn Growers Association, the American Soybean Association, the National Pesticide Safety Education Center, CropLife America and the Agricultural Retailers Association, among others.
The BeSure! campaign targets much of the Midwest where farmers utilize neonicotinoid-treated seed on major crops like corn and soybeans. It also focuses on fruits, nuts, vegetables, turf, trees and ornamental plants that are treated with neonicotinoid products with a special focus on the citrus industry in California and Florida.
This year, the campaign is furthering its reach to the Northeast, with specific focus to specialty and commodity crops that are grown in the region.
“Neonicotinoid products have been proven to be very effective in stopping invasive pests such as the Asian citrus psyllid,” said California Citrus Mutual President Casey Creamer. “Staying diligent with proper treatments, including neonicotinoids, are essential to protect the California citrus industry from the deadly citrus disease Huanglongbing.”
This year’s campaign will direct farmers, applicators and others to GrowingMatters.org/BeSure, an interactive website with up-to-date stewardship tips and information.
The “BeSure!” site also includes ASTA’s Guide to Seed Treatment Stewardship, which includes videos and brochures to show how treated seeds can be used in a way that avoids exposure to pollinators and other wildlife.
Additional links explain how other neonic applications can be used responsibly, including the comprehensive Insect Pollinators and Pesticide Product Stewardship Guide.
Two downloadable fact sheets with five quick tips to guide best management practices during planting season — one for growers and one for applicators — are available on the website.
“Like many farmers across the country, I am committed to respecting and protecting our air, land and water today and for future generations, while growing crops to help feed the world,” said Kevin Paap, farmer and president of the Minnesota Farm Bureau.
“Neonicotinoid seed treatments are effective in helping to control pests that damage crops and reduce yields. But it is also very important for farmers to follow the stewardship practices promoted by the BeSure! campaign to help protect honey bees and other wildlife.”