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Farmers Can ‘Bee’ a Friend to Pollinators

Did you know what’s good for bees, butterflies and other pollinators can also be good for your bottom line? Through a variety of USDA conservation programs, farmers and ranchers can manage for top-notch pollinator habitat while also improving their operations.

Three-fourths of the world’s flowering plants depend on pollinators, such as bees, bats, beetles and butterflies, to reproduce. Pollinators are critical to our food supply. More than 30 percent of the world’s food and flowering plants, including 130 fruits and vegetable plants, depend on insect pollination. Scientists credit insect pollinators for one out of every three bites of food eaten.

While pollinators are a critical foundation of our food chain, many species are in trouble. Pollinators face many challenges in the modern world. Habitat loss, disease, parasites and environmental contaminants have all contributed to the decline of many species of pollinators.

Honey bees and native bees are estimated to support $18 to $27 billion in crop yields each year in the United States.

You Can Help

Agricultural producers and private landowners can use conservation practices to help pollinators by creating and enhancing habitat and protecting this habitat from exposure to pesticides. Two-thirds of the land in the United States is privately owned, and the land management decisions of producers and landowners impact pollinators.

Good for the Farm

Honey bees and native bees are estimated to support $18 to $27 billion in crop yields each year in the United States. Pollinators play a key role in healthy agricultural landscapes, helping private landowners increase and improve the quality of their crop yields and the health and vigor of their landscape – which can lead to higher profits.

Those benefits motivate landowners’ investments in conservation to support pollinators because the same efforts that help benefit their operation also combats the threats to pollinators dwindling population.

Available USDA Assistance

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) offers more than three dozen conservation practices that can benefit pollinators. While many of these practices may target improving grazing lands or reducing soil erosion, simple tweaks can yield big benefits for pollinator species.

For example, on croplands, farmers can integrate pollinator-friendly tweaks on their land, such as hedgerows and field borders. And on grazing lands, ranchers can manage for more diversity, which provides top-notch forage for livestock and habitat for pollinators. Read more at https://www.farmers.gov/media/blog/2018/06/15/farmers-can-bee-friend-pollinators.

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