California’s biggest agricultural advocates have joined with the Environmental Defense Fund and CDFA to scale up on-farm conservation efforts for pollinators.

More than 20 organizations have signed onto the coalition, with the Almond Board taking the lead. The goal is to promote voluntary, incentive-based habitat establishment and bee-friendly integrative pest management practices.

“The outcome will not be a tidy report that sits on a shelf, but rather a metric of acres, projects and species added to the landscape while agriculture continues to profitably feed the nation,” said Pollinator Partnership CEO Laurie Davies Adams.

Environmental regulators like CalEPA are absent, though Department of Pesticide Regulation Director Val Dolcini previously served as CEO of the Pollinator Partnership. Yet CDFA Secretary Karen Ross said the coalition “has been a very active item of discussion across our agencies.” It supports the governor’s 30x30 conservation order and his interest in the Healthy Soils Program.

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Ross pointed to a state bill sponsored by the Almond Alliance that would provide $5 million for technical assistance. This is one of the biggest barriers for farmers interested in CDFA’s climate-smart programs, said Ross.

Almond Board Chief Scientific Officer Josette Lewis cited a recent UC Davis study showing that each acre of pollinator habitat costs growers about $1,700. Other research found that less than 10% of Yolo County farmers saw financial gain from that habitat.

The coalition hopes to also draw funding from industry, state and federal programs, and foundations and donors.