Mark Wagoner, a fourth generation Touchet, Wash, producer, has received the Farmer-Rancher Pollinator Award for his protection of bees, conservation practices and issues outreach to increase awareness of the importance of pollinators and pollination in the ag community.
The prize, bestowed nationally by the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign and the National Association of Conservation Districts, sheds light on the contributions of American farmers to natural and cultural resource preservation.
Wagoner produces alfalfa and native solitary alkali bees.
Sticking to his roots and making innovation out of tradition has made Wagoner Touchet Farms a place where native bees and production agriculture coexist, his award comments stated.
Additionally, the NAPPC presentation included the following statements:
•Mark is a farmer, but he is also an advocate and an innovator. He works with Washington State University's Douglas Walsh to conduct research about best management practices for the alkali bee.
•He provided the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with his perspective on insecticide safety regulations and small crop exemptions for safer chemistries for 24 years, making frequent trips to Washington, D.C., to give his on-farm perspectives to administrators.
•He has been a active in community issues involving pesticide use in agriculture, making the Walla Walla Valley a safer place for pollinators. In the early 1990's an alkali bee crash was attributed to a new generation insecticide. Since that time, growers have made no subsequent mistakes, with the result that the valley-wide nesting population of bees has grown 15-fold to 20 million female alkali bees.
His achievements were celebrated this fall at a VIP reception held at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C. where he shared the spotlight with 2012 Canadian Farmer-Rancher award winners Don and Marie Ruzicka of Sunrise Farm in Killam, Alberta, as well as the winner from Mexico.
The importance of saving bees is high, according to Campaign information, which claims that without pollinators a third of our diet would be lost.