Now in its fifth year, the agriculture industry collaboration led by Growing Matters kicked off its annual BeSure! stewardship awareness campaign to promote best stewardship practices when using neonicotinoid products on farms and urban landscapes. Using a wide range of media channels, the BeSure! campaign reminds growers, crop protection applicators, urban landscape applicators, agricultural supply retailers and others to follow label directions and responsible stewardship measures for neonicotinoid products to minimize any potential impact on pollinators and other wildlife.
Since its inception in 2019, the BeSure! campaign is estimated to have reached millions of growers and applicators by providing them with access to multiple informational resources to help use crop treatments and plant protection treatments responsibly and avoid exposure to pollinators and wildlife.
“These past five years of the BeSure! campaign have been a testament to the longstanding, collaborative commitment by the industry to communicate about the importance of care and safety when using treated seed,” said Bethany Shively, Vice President of Strategic Communications at the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA). “When it comes to stewardship, we all have a role to play. We’re proud to partner with BeSure! to extend the reach of our mutual efforts around stewardship – to everyone who treats, handles or plants treated seed.”
In addition to ASTA, the campaign has been endorsed by the National Pesticide Safety Education Center (NPSEC), National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, the Agricultural Retailers Association and the American Soybean Association (ASA), among others.
The food industry depends on crop protection products to meet consumer needs. Along with Brazil, India, and China, the United States ranks as one of the top countries for food production in the world and is also the world’s top food exporter. Neonicotinoids and other crop protection products ensure that growers can continue to grow the U.S. food supply at a sustainable rate, while minimizing risk to surrounding wildlife.
“Seed treatments, including neonicotinoid products, are an indispensable part of a grower’s toolbox. This vital application type can reduce the amount of pesticide being used and allow the product to be applied in a more environmentally sensitive manner, all while ensuring crops are protected when they are most susceptible to pests,” said Daryl Cates, ASA President and soybean farmer from Illinois. “The BeSure! stewardship program helps increase grower and applicator awareness so they are incorporating seed treatments into their practices safely, responsibly, and yet effectively. The American Soybean Association values its partnership with the Growing Matters coalition through the BeSure! program to achieve these important protections for our wildlife and natural resources.”
In addition to corn and soybean crops, the BeSure! campaign also includes fruits, nuts, vegetables, turf, trees and ornamental plants that are protected with neonicotinoid products.
Citrus growers, for example, use crop protection products to combat a deadly disease known as citrus greening. First detected in 2005, citrus greening is the single most serious threat to citrus farming and has shrunk Florida’s citrus production by 80%. Used safely and properly, neonicotinoids can help combat citrus greening by controlling its insect vectors – an ever-crucial tool as citrus demand in the U.S. continues to grow.
“Honey bees, other wildlife, and all segments of the Florida orange blossom honey industry rely heavily on blossoming citrus trees, and the BeSure! campaign reminds us that we all have a responsibility to protect the biodiversity of our planet through proper stewardship practices,” said Mike Aerts, Vice President of Science and Regulatory Affairs at the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association.
Growers, applicators and others can go to GrowingMatters.org/BeSure for up-to-date stewardship tips and information. The BeSure! site also includes ASTA’s Guide to Seed Treatment Stewardship, including videos and brochures to show how treated seeds can be used in a way that avoids exposure to pollinators and other wildlife. The site contains a host of links to explain how neonicotinoids applications can be used responsibly, including the comprehensiveInsect Pollinators and Pesticide Product Stewardship Guide. Two downloadable fact sheets with five quick tips to guide best stewardship practices during planting season – one for growers and one for applicators – are also available.
Over the coming weeks, the campaign will share relevant updates and best stewardship tips via social media content (search using hashtag #BeSure), radio programming, outreach via industry trade groups, and a variety of digital content. For more information, please visit: GrowingMatters.org/BeSure.
About Growing Matters
Agriculture and horticulture are key to nourishing families and communities. Feeding a growing population, enhancing the beauty of our surroundings and a sustained commitment to environmental protection are fundamental needs that matter. Crop protection products, both natural and synthetic, are important tools that protect plants from tough and invasive pests that can devastate crops and urban landscapes. Growing Matters is funded by a consortium of companies committed to open and healthy scientific discourse on stewardship, benefits and alternatives to neonicotinoid insecticides in North America. Consortium members include Bayer, Syngenta, Valent U.S.A., BASF, and Mitsui Chemicals Agro, Inc. The BeSure! campaign is also supported by Gowan Company and PBI Gordon Corporation. Go to www.GrowingMatters.org for information, reports, videos and infographics on the benefits of neonicotinoid insecticides.
About American Seed Trade Association (ASTA)
Founded in 1883, the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) represents over 700 companies involved in seed production, plant breeding and related industries in North America. ASTA is the leading voice of action in all matters concerning the development, marketing and movement of seed, associated products and services throughout the world. The association’s broad membership offers varieties from alfalfa to zucchini and all production types including conventional, organic and biotech. ASTA promotes the development of better seed to produce better crops for a better quality of life. Go to www.betterseed.org.
About The American Soybean Association
The American Soybean Association represents U.S. soybean farmers on domestic and international policy issues important to the soybean industry. ASA has 26 affiliated state associations representing 30 soybean-producing states and more than 500,000 soybean farmers. Find more information at soygrowers.com.
About the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association
The Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association (FFVA) acts as a strong voice for Florida farmers who grow nutritious fruits and vegetables to feed our country. FFVA is the state’s leading full-service specialty crop organization, serving Florida’s grower-shipper community since 1943. We represent a broad range of crops, including vegetables, citrus, tropical fruit, berries, sod, sugar cane, tree crops and more. Our mission is to enhance the business and competitive environment for producing and marketing fruits, vegetables and other crops.