In a nod to the vital role of honeybees and in agriculture, USDA is pumping $3 million toward pollinator health.
The Natural Resources Conservation Service will provide close to $3 million in technical and financial assistance for farmers and ranchers to help improve the health of bees, which play an important role in crop production. The funds will be targeted toward five Midwestern states: Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Midwestern states were chosen because from June to September the region is the resting ground for over 65 percent of the commercially managed honeybees in the country.
“Honeybee pollination supports an estimated $15 billion worth of agricultural production, including more than 130 fruits and vegetables that are the foundation of a nutritious diet. The future security of America's food supply depends on healthy honeybees," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
Funding will be provided through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to promote conservation practices that will provide honeybees with nutritious pollen and nectar while providing benefits to the environment. Recent studies have shown that beekeepers are losing approximately 30 percent of their honeybee colonies each year, up from historical norms of ten to fifteen percent overwintering losses experienced prior to 2006.
This assistance will provide guidance and support to farmers and ranchers to implement conservation practices that will provide safe and diverse food sources for honeybees. For example, appropriate cover crops or rangeland and pasture management may provide a benefit to producers by reducing erosion, increasing the health of their soil, inhibiting invasive species, providing quality forage and habitat for honeybees and other pollinators, as well as habitat for other wildlife.
Applications are due March 21, 2014.
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