Assistance Available for California Producers to Aid Declining Monarch Butterfly

Monarch
California agricultural producers can voluntarily help the monarch butterfly on their farms and ranches through a variety of conservation practices offered by the USDA. 
 
“With the monarch butterfly’s western population in peril, we’re encouraging California producers to make simple tweaks on their farms that can go a long way for this iconic species,” said Carlos Suarez, state conservationist with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in California. “NRCS offers more than three dozen conservation practices that enable producers to help monarchs and other pollinators as well as benefit their agricultural operations.” 
 
The overwintering monarch butterfly’s western population declined by 85 percent between 2017 and 2018, according to counts released by the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. Nationwide, the species has seen population declines since the 1980s, in part because of the decrease in native plants like milkweed–the sole source of food for monarch caterpillars.
 
As monarch butterflies migrate, they must have the right plants in bloom along their migration route to fuel their flight. Producers–especially those along California’s coast and in the Central Valley and Sierra foothills–can play an important role in helping the species. 
 
Through a variety of conservation practices, NRCS helps producers improve management of healthy stands of milkweed and high-value nectar plants and protect these stands from exposure to pesticides.
While many of the conservation practices that NRCS recommends may target improving grazing lands or reducing soil erosion, simple tweaks to restoration plant lists or timing of management practices can yield big benefits for monarchs.
 
NRCS helps producers cover part of the costs for adopting these practices through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and other Farm Bill-funded programs. NRCS accepts applications for conservation programs on a continuous basis. Producers interested in assistance are encouraged to contact their local USDA Service Center.
 
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Edited from a press release by Anita Brown, California NRCS Public Affairs Director. NRCS provides America’s farmers and ranchers with financial and technical assistance to voluntarily put conservation on the ground, not only helping the environment but agricultural operations, too.
 

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