Hickory Nut Gap Farm’s John Ager to speak at Raleigh pollinator rally, June 20

PRESS RELEASE:

Research Triangle Park, NC – With over an average of 40 percent of U.S. honeybee hives dying and costing over $2 billion each year, farmers, food advocates, beekeepers and environmental groups across the nation are taking to the road to raise awareness on the massive decline.

The Keep the Hives Alive Tour will stop in cities in California, South Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, Pennsylvania and North Carolina during National Pollinator Week, June 13-23. At the end of the tour, beekeepers, farmers, farmworkers, scientists and advocates will bring a truck load of 2.64 million dead bees to Washington, D.C. to urge the EPA, the USDA and Congress to take action on toxic pesticides and support sustainable agriculture.

“I’m part of the next generation of beekeepers who wants to make a living keeping bees — and to do that, we have to help solve this problem,” said James Cook, who owns The Bird and the Bees LLC and is driving a bee truck cross-country for the tour. “In the five years since I started keeping bees, I’ve seen many hives killed by pesticides. If some fundamental things don’t change, it’s going to be really hard for beekeepers to adapt to the environment around us.”

Raleigh based non-profit, Toxic Free North Carolina, will host a rally and press conference in front of Bayer Crop Science North American Headquarters in Research Triangle Park as part of the national Keep the Hives Alive Tour. This beekeeper, farmer, and activist led action will call on major pesticide-producing companies, such as Bayer Crop Science, to take on more corporate responsibility by phasing out bee-killing pesticides that researchers are finding in our soil, water, and decimating various ecosystems.

“We have spoken with concerned beekeepers, farmers, and other community members across North Carolina and they all agree that the way we cultivate food must change to ensure a sustainable agricultural system for future generations,” says Preston Peck, Policy Advocate with Toxic Free NC. “The pesticides that are produced by companies like Bayer are, by definition, toxic. With agriculture contributing more that $78 billion to North Carolina’s economy, this sector is too important to rely on chemicals that continue to contaminate our soil and water, disrupting the ecosystems that support agriculture.”

Also, Toxic Free North Carolina and supporters will demand government accountability for ensuring bee and other pollinator health by asking the EPA for a moratorium of neonicotinoid insecticides linked to the bee colony collapse crisis.

What: Rally and press conference hosted by Toxic Free North Carolina to create further awareness of the relationship between pesticides and pollinators.

Who: Beekeepers, farmers, environmental organizations, and other supporters from around North Carolina and the country.

Speakers to include:
Rev. Bill Kearney, faith leader and member of Warren County Environmental Action Team
Tony Kleese, owner of Earthwise Organics in Chapel Hill
Liz Lindsey, master beekeeper from Durham County Beekeeping Association
Nick Wood, State Organizing Director, Appalachian Voices
Charles McNair, founder of Freedom Farm in Goldsboro
Representative John Ager, District 155 and owner of Hickory Nut Gap Farm

When: June 20th at 11:00 AM
Where: 2 TW Alexander Drive, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709
Social media: #KeepHivesAlive, @keephivesalive
More information on bee declines, tour stops and coalition policy demands is available at keephivesalive.org.

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About Gina Smith
Gina Smith is the Mountain Xpress Food section editor and writer. She can be reached at gsmith@mountainx.com.

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