Collaboration Brings Conservationists and Agriculture Industry Together to Help the Iconic Monarch Butterfly

Mar 08, 2018

Farmers For Monarchs, a broad-based collaboration aimed at addressing on-farm conservation efforts, was launched last week at Commodity Classic, America’s largest farmer-led convention and trade show. The American Soybean Association (ASA) is a partner in the collaboration. This unprecedented, united effort by farmers, ranchers, landowners, the agriculture industry, conservation groups and others seeks to encourage and enable the voluntary expansion and establishment of pollinator and conservation habitat. The initiative includes planting milkweed and other habitat along the monarch butterfly seasonal migration route in North America.

“This is a unique moment in time for pollinator health and populations.  There are many factors impacting declines in monarch population: loss of habitat is one of them,” said Peter S. Berthelsen, The Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund Partnership coordinator. “That’s why farmers can make huge a huge difference by identifying the opportunities within their current farm and ranch operation that can benefit and support their habitat needs.”

Every fall, monarch butterflies migrate up to 3,000 miles, from the upper Midwest to Mexico, to spend the winter. Upon their return in the spring, monarchs need milkweed plants along the migration route to lay their eggs, as it is the only source of food their young will eat. Monarch butterflies face many challenges that have contributed to a significant decline in the overwintering population as compared to the 20-year average: loss of breeding and food habitats along their migration route, weather and climate change, predators, pathogens and parasites, and less overwintering habitat in Mexico.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (USFWS) is currently evaluating monarch conservation efforts along the migration route. In June 2019, it will determine its final listing decision of the monarch and, possibly, its habitat, under the Endangered Species Act. A listing could potentially impact the way farmers manage their land in the future. Voluntary efforts to establish and restore monarch habitat could lead to reversing population losses, potentially rendering a listing unnecessary.

Farmers For Monarchs stresses the importance to farmers and ranchers of establishing and expanding monarch habitat in the 2018 and 2019 growing seasons so these efforts can factor into the decision of the USFWS. Farmers can help by:

  • Planting habitat on non-farming areas;
  • Working with conservation partners;
  • Voluntarily registering habitat; and
  • Joining local, state or federal incentive programs.

Farmers can visit for more resources and information on conservation efforts.

Information provided by a news release from Farmers for Monarchs.