USDA provides $8m for bee habitats

USDA provides $8m for bee habitats

THE U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced $8 million in Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) incentives for farmers and ranchers in Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin who establish new habitats for declining honeybee populations.

USDA noted that more than half of the commercially managed honeybees are in these five states during the summer. The $8 million is in addition to $3 million USDA designated to the Midwest states to support bee populations earlier this year.

According to USDA, the U.S. honeybee population has been declining for decades, with 6 million managed honeybee colonies in 1947 but just 2.5 million today.

"American agricultural production relies on having a healthy honeybee population," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. "In recent years, factors such as diseases, parasites, pesticides or habitat loss have contributed to a significant decline in the honeybee population. This $8 million is part of the Administration's ongoing strategy to reverse these trends and establish more plant habitat on Conservation Reserve Program lands to restore the bee population."

The new CRP pollinator initiative is designed to further enhance current CRP land to provide better access to nutritious pollinator forage. The program allows for managing or replacing existing vegetation with lower-cost, high-nutrition seed mixes that can support distinct blooming cycles of plants that benefit pollinators.

The CRP pollinator initiative, administered by the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA), takes advantage of the new pollinator seed mixes developed by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. FSA also recently announced the restart of continuous enrollments in CRP, including its Pollinator Habitat Initiative to enroll 100,000 acres of longer-lasting meadows of high-quality native wildflowers that support honeybees, pollinators and other wildlife populations.

Volume:86 Issue:25

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