State Legislature Passes Compensation Bill for Bees Killed by Pesticide

04/10/2014 / Gary Van Cleve

The Minnesota legislature passed into law a modest compensation measure for bee owners for acute pesticide poisoning resulting in the death of the owner’s bees. The measure establishes an appropriation to be administered by the Commissioner of Agriculture “not to exceed $150,000 per fiscal year” to pay claims made under the new law. Payments are available where it can be established that the cause of bee deaths was acute pesticide poisoning and either the pesticide applicator cannot be determined or the applicator applied the pesticide in a manner consistent with the pesticide product’s label. If the identity of the applicator and misapplication of the pesticide can be established, the Commissioner of Agriculture may also collect a penalty from the applicator “sufficient to compensate the bee owner for the fair market value of the dead bees and must award the money to the bee owner.” Eligibility for compensation under the fund also requires the bee owner to document that at the time of the loss, insurance coverage sufficient to cover up to 50 percent of the total value of the owner’s colony was in place. Any compensation awarded by the Commissioner must be reduced by any proceeds from an insurance policy. The law also gives the Commissioner authority to assemble a group of experts to consult in the investigation of pollinator deaths or illnesses. The bill is HF3158.

Note:  Mr. Van Cleve was counsel for a group of beekeepers in the Minnesota Supreme Court case of Anderson v. Dept. of Natural Resources and International Paper, in which the a new cause of action was recognized by the Court imposing a duty on property owners who are aware that bees owned by others are foraging on their property, to refrain from actions that could harm or kill those bees.

Anderson v. State, 693 N.W.2d 81 (Minn. 2005)