USDA announces $3 million for a new pollinator program
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WASHINGTON, Feb. 25, 2014 - USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced today it will provide close to $3 million in technical and financial assistance for interested farmers and ranchers to help improve bee forage. The funding will be targeted in five Midwestern states: Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
“Honey bee 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 honey bees," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
Funding will be provided through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to promote conservation practices that will provide honey bees with nutritious pollen and nectar while providing benefits to the environment.
Applications are due March 21, 2014
Recent studies show that beekeepers are losing approximately 30 percent of their honey bee colonies each year, up from historical norms of 10-15 percent overwintering losses experienced prior to 2006, USDA noted in its announcement.
Midwestern states were chosen because from June to September the region is the resting ground for over 65 percent of the commercially managed honey bees in the country, USDA noted, which is a time bees require forage to build up hive strength for the winter.
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