Vermont governor vetoes bill to restrict pesticide that is toxic to bees, saying it’s anti-farmer

MONTPELIER, Vt. — Vermont’s Republican Governor Phil Scott has vetoed a bill to severely restrict a type of pesticide that is toxic to bees and other pollinators. He said the legislation is “more anti-farmers than pro-pollinators.”

The bill would ban the use of neonicotinoids — commonly called neonics — as well as the sale or distribution of soy and corn grain seeds coated with the substance. The pesticides are neurotoxins and are the most widely used class of insecticides in the world, lawmakers said.

Vermont’s Democratic-controlled Legislature could consider overriding the governor’s veto during a special session next month.

“It is hard to believe that the Governor chose World Bee Day to veto this common-sense legislation to protect bees and other pollinators from toxic pesticides while supporting farmers in a just transition to safer alternatives,” said Paul Burns, executive director of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group. , said a statement Monday.

The Vermont Legislature passed the bill after New York Governor Kathy Hochul last year signed what she described as a landmark bill to severely restrict the use of neonics in her state.

Scott wrote in his veto message that nearly all corn seed sold in the country is treated with EPA-approved neonics, and that Vermont grows about 90,000 acres of corn, while the U.S. grows 90 million acres.

“This would put Vermont farmers at a significant disadvantage,” he wrote. He said dairy farmers are facing rising costs and crop losses due to summer and winter flooding, plus last year’s spring frost.

He suggested the state closely monitor and study the issue to protect both family farms and pollinators.

Scott is expected to veto a number of bills. He says there is an imbalance in the legislature, resulting in opposing perspectives and data not being taken into account.

“This means that some bills are passed without considering all the consequences and could therefore do more harm than good,” he said in a statement on Monday. “Due to the sheer number of bills passed in the last three days of the session, many bills will fall into this category.”