Posted October 31, 2014
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced that more than $4 million will be provided to help Midwest farmers and ranchers improve the health of honey bees, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) press release available here. The Huffington Post also published an article here, Capital Press here, and The Hill here.
“The future of America’s food supply depends on honey bees, and this effort is one way USDA is helping improve the health of honey bee populations. Significant progress has been made in understanding the factors that are associated with Colony Collapse Disorder and the overall health of honey bees, and this funding will allow us to work with farmers and ranchers to apply that knowledge over a broader area,” said Vilsack.
Bees are a crucial role in food production and pollinate approximately $15 billion worth of crops. Recently, their numbers have been declining partially due to colony collapse disorder, according to Huffington Post.
The total number of U.S. bee colonies has dropped from 5 million in the 1940s to 2.5 million today, according to The Hill.
Eligible farmers and ranchers will be able to provide “diverse and safe food resources” to bees. A USDA branch will focus on the effort in Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
Senator John Hoeven said that the government is also providing $8 million in similar incentives through the Conservation Reserve Program, according to Capital Press.
Funding will be provided to producers through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), and applications are accepted until Friday, November 21, according to the release.
For more information on EQIP, please visit the National Agricultural Law Center’s website here.