The White House on Friday announced a federal strategy to reverse a decline in the number of honeybees and other pollinators in the United States — a threat that affects billions of dollars' worth of crops. President Barack Obama directed federal agencies to use research, land management, education and public/private partnerships to advance honeybee and other pollinator health and habitats. The Environmental Protection Agency and the Agriculture Department will lead a multi-agency task force to develop a pollinator health strategy and action plan within six months. As part of the plan, the USDA announced $8 million in funding for farmers and ranchers in five Midwest states who establish new habitats for honeybee populations. But some environmental groups, including Friends of the Earth, said the beekeeper-in-chief should have taken action against neonicotinoids, a class of pesticides chemically similar to nicotine that has been linked to bee deaths.
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