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ASA Meets with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to Discuss Restoring Monarch Butterfly Population

The American Soybean Association (ASA) and a broad group of agricultural stakeholders met last week with Dan Ashe, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to discuss efforts to restore monarch butterfly populations. FWS was petitioned by The Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety, Xerces Society and monarch scientist Lincoln Brower to list the monarch as an endangered species.

Monarch populations have declined about 90 percent in the past two decades, with the World Wildlife Fund’s 2013 report from Mexico showing that the number of monarch butterflies wintering there was at its lowest in 20 years. The number is measured by the amount of forest the butterflies occupy, and in 2013 the number of butterfly acres decreased from approximately seven to three. Ashe said that the petition is undergoing status assessment, but due to a large backlog, the review won’t start until at least 2017. If warranted, FWS would then make a proposal and take public comments. The group discussed opportunities for the species and other pollinators on both farmlands and non-farm managed lands. Ashe noted that the FWS has a role in land management as well as a regulator and that he hopes to work on these issues from a land management perspective.

The group discussed ways to converge efforts on honeybees and monarchs, as improving forage habitat will help all pollinators. ASA will continue to play a lead role in coalition efforts and outreach to Federal agencies on all pollinator issues.

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