GOP lawmakers take aim at Dayton's pollinator order

A bumblebee on a flower in East River Flats Park
A Bumblebee sits on a flower in East River Flats Park in Minneapolis on Sunday, July 24, 2016.
Evan Frost | MPR News File

Minnesota Republican lawmakers say new state pesticide directives designed to protect pollinators are causing anxiety among farmers.

The House Agriculture Policy Committee questioned Gov. Mark Dayton's administration Tuesday about an executive order aimed at reducing the use of pesticides that can be harmful to bees and other pollinators.

The order contained five steps to reduce use of some plant applications and develop additional protection efforts.

Rep. Jeff Backer, R-Browns Valley, said calls for increased inspection and enforcement are an insult to well-meaning farmers.

"The farmers in my district feel like they are the enemy because the governor is on the offense in saying that 'Hey, you guys aren't doing your job,'" he said.

Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson said that sentiment is misplaced.

"I can guarantee you that he has the best economic interest of Minnesota agriculture in the forefront of his mind," Frederickson said.

Parts of Dayton's late-August order call for collecting more public comments on the plan.

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