Now in its fifth year, the agriculture industry collaboration led by Growing Matters kicked off its annual BeSure! stewardship awareness campaign today to promote best stewardship practices when using neonicotinoid products on farms and urban landscapes.
Using a wide range of media channels including print, radio, digital and social media, 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. “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, National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, the Agricultural Retailers Association, and the American Soybean Association, 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.”
Outside of major commodity crops like corn and soybean, 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.
The BeSure! site 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 comprehensive Insect 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 using hashtag #BeSure, radio programming, outreach via industry trade groups, and a variety of digital content.