USDA Provides $8 Million to Help Boost Declining Honey Bee Population
WASHINGTON–The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced $8 million in
Conservation Reserve Program incentives for farmers and ranchers who establish
new habitats for declining honey bee populations.
More than half of the commercially managed honey bees are in these five states
during the summer. The announcement comes in addition to $3 million USDA designated
to the Midwest states to support bee populations earlier this year through the Natural
Resources Conservation Service Environmental Quality Incentives Program.
"American agricultural production relies on having a healthy honey bee population,"
said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "In recent years, factors such as diseases,
parasites, pesticides or habitat loss have contributed to a significant decline in the
honey bee 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,
allowing it to provide better access to nutritious pollinator forage. The program
allows for managing or replacing existing vegetation, known as 'covers', with
lower cost, high nutrition seed mixes that can support distinct blooming cycles
of plants that benefit pollinators.
Honey bees, the pollinator workhorse of U.S. fruit and vegetable agriculture, will have
more blooms from which to collect nectar and pollen to sustain and promote colony
growth and honey production throughout the growing season. By assisting honey bees,
the pollinator initiative helps USDA continue to secure the food supply. More than
$15 billion worth of agricultural production, including over 130 fruits and vegetables,
depend on the health and well-being of honey bees.
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