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Farmers for Monarchs – Supporting an Iconic Species

Matthew Mulica

photo credit: Getty

Farmers and ranchers know the value of pollinators to our ecosystems – they are vital to our environment and growing crops for food and forage. Following declines in monarch butterfly populations, a diverse group of committed stakeholders, including scientists, conservationists, farmers and private sector partners, convened Farmers for Monarchs to find collaborative solutions to strengthen monarch populations and habitat.

Convened by Keystone Policy Center, one of Farmers for Monarchs’ main goals is improving the monarch population through voluntary efforts to restore, enhance and protect habitat while maintaining productive agricultural operations. Monarch conservation simply cannot be successful without it. Farmers can take a variety of actions to benefit pollinators and increase their numbers on agricultural lands. For example, they may renew pollinator forage and nesting habitats by adding flowering plants, hedgerows, butterfly waystations and other shrubs. This in turn supports other wildlife such as birds and animals, improves the quality of water runoff, decreases soil loss and reduces the need for pesticides.

Farmers may qualify for financial support from government or non-government programs to improve pollinator habitat. Local Extension offices and county conservation districts are great sources of information about these opportunities.

Pollinator Week is a great time to recommit to efforts that benefit pollinators like monarchs.

Participating in National Pollinator Week (June 19-25) provides an opportunity to reflect on the valuable ecosystem services provided by bees, butterflies, and other pollinating animals and insects. This week is also a great time for all of us to recommit to efforts that benefit pollinators like monarchs. It is also a chance for farmers and ranchers to share their stories of supporting pollinators and the positive results that have come from it. If you support pollinators, take advantage of this opportunity to broadly share your experience and impact.

Landowners who have road or utility easements on their property may also be eligible to participate in a program to support monarchs while receiving regulatory assurances that additional conservation measures will not be required if the monarch is listed under the Endangered Species Act. While the title may be daunting – Nationwide Candidate Conservation Agreement for Monarch Butterfly – participating by adding monarch habitat along rights of way or adjusting mowing schedules is a simple way to both boost the monarch population and gain some regulatory protection.

For more information tailored to the needs of farmers, call the Pollinator Habitat Help Desk at (337) 422-4828 or (337) HABITAT to learn about planting milkweed and other pollinator habitat on your land. Farmers for Monarchs is proud to work with a diverse set of stakeholders to support monarch butterflies and encourage the voluntary efforts farmers and ranchers are making to strengthen the population and habitat for this iconic species.

Matthew Mulica is senior project director at the Keystone Policy Center.Farmers for Monarchs - a Keystone Collaborative, is an initiative of the center. The collaborative consists of national organizations representing farmers, ranchers and landowners; businesses working along the agricultural supply chain; researchers and academic institutions; federal and state entities; and conservation organizations. Learn more at https://farmersformonarchs.org/.