WYCKOFF, N.J. – The Legislators of District 40 called on the Department of Agriculture to extend the comment period for additional evaluation of beekeeping rules. The team sent the following letter to the Department:
“We write to you today on behalf of the citizens of Legislative District 40 in opposition to the proposed regulations for Beekeeping and Apiary Activities.
Honeybees represent an important benefit to our communities, especially in northern New Jersey. Our state is home to approximately 3,000 to 3,500 registered beekeepers and has over 20,000 bee colonies. They represent a $7 million honeybee industry and also play a major role in New Jersey’s annual production of nearly $200 million worth of fruits and vegetables.
While we applaud the efforts of the Department of Agriculture to balance protecting the health and safety of New Jerseyans with promoting honeybees and beekeeping, we fear the proposed regulations will have a detrimental effect on our state.
The proposed changes raise significant concerns:
- Several terms included in the proposed rules are not clearly defined which may lead to additional issues – examples include “small hive”, the difference between commercial and non-commercial beekeeping, and “excess honey production with no outlet.”
- Municipalities may not have the resources or capabilities of enforcing restrictions.
- The minimum property size requirement and limitations on the number of hives per property may be considered discriminatory based on income and location.
- The new regulations will create unnecessary red tape for new beekeepers, and will significantly set back the development of this vital industry.
The purpose of these regulations should be to encourage proper beekeeping practices, not to make it so burdensome on beekeepers that they work to avoid the regulations. This may have the opposite effect than what is desired.
We respectfully request that you extend the comment period for additional evaluation. During the comment period extension, we request that the Department of Agriculture hold at least one public hearing to allow involved parties to have an honest, open, and productive dialogue. The hearing would include input from beekeepers, residents who are not beekeepers, and scientific experts. We would be happy to assist in coordinating and facilitating any hearings that take place.
In the event that the regulations are finalized in their current form, we will work with the Department of Agriculture to introduce legislation to resolve these issues. Thank you for considering these comments, and we look forward to working with you on this issue.”
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