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Farmers and ranchers use conservation to help pollinators

WASHINGTON – When it comes to pollinators, American farmers and ranchers are creating high quality habitat to boost their populations and harness their value. With National Pollinator Week beginning today, USDA‘s Natural Resources Conservation Service is promoting conservation opportunities that benefit pollinators, like bees and butterflies.
Pollinators are essential to fruit, vegetable and seed crops, but many species are seeing their numbers fall.
Agricultural producers across the nation work with NRCS to create ideal habitat for pollinators and increase populations in simple and significant ways.
Producers planted about 101,000 acres of field borders, 88,000 feet of hedgerows, 3,250 acres of conservation cover and 1,000 acres of beneficial insect habitat during fiscal 2012. These conservation activities are just three of more than three dozen that NRCS offers through the Farm Bill to help producers create the perfect places for pollinators to forage and take shelter.
“We are working hard to get the word out,” NRCS Acting Chief Jason Weller said. “It makes good business sense to plant for pollinators, and NRCS wants to help producers take action that will not only benefit pollinators – but also their operations.”
More than three-fourths of the world’s flowering plants rely on pollinators to reproduce, equating to one of every three bites of food people eat. Many plants would be unable to reproduce without the help of pollinators.
“Bees and other pollinators provide a tremendous ecological service, and that’s why thousands of producers have worked to attract them to their land,” said Mace Vaughan, a scientist with NRCS and The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. “Creating habitat for pollinators attracts beneficial insects, produces wildlife habitat, reduces soil erosion and improves water quality. Pollinators help keep the whole ecosystem healthy.”
Scientists attribute pollinators’ decline to a number of factors, including forage and habitat loss, disease, parasites and environmental contaminants. Agencies and partners across the country are working on science-based solutions to support pollinators. Each June, NRCS and conservation partners salute pollinators during “National Pollinator Week,” set for June 17-23. Learn more: www.nrcs.usda.gov/pollinators.
Media Contact: Justin Fritscher, (202) 480-7530, justin.fritscher@wdc.usda.gov
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