You can download a copy of this letter here.
OSBA has been involved in providing testimony and/or following four proposed bills concerning beekeeping during the current legislative session. One of these bills, HB 2533A which was initiated by us will likely be adopted into law. The others have died in committee.
HB 2533A adds the definition for a nucleus colony to ORS 602 and then exempts nucleus colonies from the Department of Agricultural hive registration fees. The bill has passed the House of Representatives without a negative vote. On April 26 it was passed by the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources. It now has passed the Senate and has been signed by the Governor into law.
HB 3280 proposed to eliminate registration fees for the first year that hives are established. It was intended to apply primarily to hobby or backyard beekeepers. Since it is not necessary to register less than five hives it would not be of any benefit to most beginning hobbyist or backyard beekeepers. In addition the wording was confusing and the Department of Agriculture advised it would be very difficult to implement.
SB 785 died in Committee after a public hearing. It essentially copied and added to the Federal law that restricts the use of antibiotics for prophylactic use on livestock. We initially testified against the bill because the definition of livestock included honeybees and the Oregon Health Department was the designated enforcement agency. After proposed amendment changes we took a neutral stand on the bill.
SB 929 died in Committee after two public hearings. From the start we took a neutral position. The bill would have banned the use of neonics by anyone other then licensed pesticide applicators, except in a few limited circumstances. The bill’s sponsors argued that it was necessary to protect honeybees and other pollinators. They offered no proof that homeowner use of neonics was or is a problem for beekeepers. It seemed to us that they where merely trying to use beekeeping as a means to pursue an anti-pesticide agenda.
FDA Needs to Know that Honey Does Not Have “Added Sugars”
- Click on this link and submit your thoughts: https://www.regulations.gov/ comment?D=FDA-2016-D-4414-0002
- What to include:
- You can be as brief or elaborate as you want, but include:
- Who you are
- Where in the country you are located
- What you do? Beekeeper, commercial honey producer, packer etc.
- How long you have been in the business
- A statement that you believe putting “Added Sugars” on the packaged honey label will confuse consumers and harm the market for honey
- Any other points you think would be helpful, including from the below list of “Key Messages”
- You can be as brief or elaborate as you want, but include:
- The honey industry supports and applauds the FDA for its continued commitment to informing consumer food choices through the nutrition facts label.
- Made by bees from the nectar of flowers, honey adds a hint of sweetness with a distinct flavor to beverages and recipes.
- We recognize that honey is a source of sugar added to foods; however, there is nothing added to pure honey itself.
- Listing the sugar content in honey as “Added Sugars” on the nutrition facts label implies adulteration of honey in its natural form.
- As stated in 21 US Code §342 (b)(4), “A food shall be deemed to be adulterated… if any substance has been added thereto or mixed or packed therewith so as to…make it appear better or of greater value than it is.”
- If consumers are informed through the Nutrition Facts label that honey contains “Added Sugars” then consumers may be led to believe that honey is adulterated, by the regulatory definition, with sugars added to develop or enhance its sweetness.
- Consumers will be misled to believe that honey is sweetened by adding an external sugar source rather than the naturally occurring sugars inherent in honey.
- There is a risk of consumer confusion if the nutrition facts label notes “Added Sugars” but a separate area on the label notes “naturally occurring sugar.” By definition, something added cannot also be naturally occurring. Our research shows that this will cause consumer confusion that hinders their ability to make informed food choices.
- We realize that honey is added to foods in preparation or manufacturing and in that case it is clearly an added sugar in those foods and would therefore be labeled as “Added Sugars” on the Nutrition Facts label. However, pure honey, itself, does not contain added sugars.
- We share the desire for clear, understandable nutrition information to aid consumer choice.
- Our desire, as is the FDA’s, is to inform consumer food choices to promote public health without confusion or misbranding around pure honey
- To that end, we are asking that the FDA consider listing the naturally occurring sugar content of 100% pure honey as a “Total Sugar” and not “Added Sugars.”
All beekeepers, whether backyard, hobbyist, or commercial, who managed five or more colonies (not including nucs) within the state at any point during the previous (last) year are now required to register with the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA). This is the result of House Bill 3362, which modified Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) 602 and the subsequent adoption of Oregon Administrative Rules (OAR) 603-055 by the ODA. The registration fee is $10 plus 50 cents per colony, due June 1. There is a grace period, but on July 1 the fee becomes $20 plus 50 cents per colony. The registration is for one year and must be made each year if the beekeeper had five or more colonies during the previous year. Once the registration application is completed and filed, the registration year will run from July 1 of the current year to June 30 of the following year.
Previously only those beekeepers engaged in commercial pollination were required to register, and the money collected by the ODA went into the agency’s general operating budget. The new law and rules make it clear that the money from the new registration fees “shall be spent on pollinator research that is predominantly focused on honeybees.” The ODA agreed with the OSBA that most (all) of the collected money will go to the Oregon State University (OSU) Honey Bee Laboratory and the ODA will not use any of the money for their administrative costs. Members of the OSBA met with the ODA and requested that specific language for our agreement be included in the OAR. The ODA proposed the addition, but the Department of Justice attorney assigned to the ODA said the agency did not have the authority to include it in the OAR. Nonetheless, the ODA said it will honor the agreement and look to adding the language to the ORS in the future.
It should be noted that the ODA not only will not receive any money for administrative costs but also will use no money for enforcement (at least at the present time). This does not mean you should ignore the law as it is a legal requirement and there are benefits to registering. Registering might serve to strengthen your position as a responsible beekeeper should a legal issue arise. In addition, you will receive notifications from the ODA on matters relating to beekeeping, such as the registration of a new Varroa mite control, and the money will go to OSU for research on honey bees.
You may register by going to https://apps.oregon.gov/sos/licensedirectory/licensedetail/606 and filling out the application form online or downloading and mailing it to the ODA. You may also request a hard copy by calling the ODA Insect Pest Prevention and Management Program at (503) 986-4636.
Note: The number of colonies often fluctuates throughout a given year. The number of colonies that must be registered is equal to the highest number of full-strength colonies managed within the state at any point during the previous year, prior to the registration deadline of June 1.
Statute, Chapter 602 — Bees: https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/bills_laws/ors/ors602.html
Rules, Division 55 — Bees and Oregon Standards of Bee Colony Strength for Colonies Used in Commercial Pollination of Crops: http://arcweb.sos.state.or.us/pages/rules/oars_600/oar_603/603_055.html
You can also check out Apiary Registration FAQs from the Oregon Department of Agriculture.
The attached PDF is the final report to the Oregon Legislature from the “Task Force on Pollinator Health”.
All beekeepers should be familiar with this report. The Oregon legislature will decide if all or any of these recommendations are made into law or regulation that may affect your management of your bees. There will be a period when the legislature will be accepting public comment on these recommendations. Please watch The Bee Line for additional information on this in the near future.
Attached File: Task Force on Pollinator Health Report