Over the past several years, declines in populations of managed and native bees and other pollinators have been growing, as have calls for initiatives and programs designed to rebuild populations of native pollinators and enhance the pollination services that they provide; however, leadership for most of these efforts has come largely from within the pollination stakeholder community.
In an effort to obtain an agricultural perspective on the challenges and opportunities around pollinator population declines, a pollinator protection project was initiated in 2006 by the FFA Foundation and now operates as a special project of the National Association of State Conservation Agencies. Guided by a national Steering Committee composed of agricultural and conservation leaders, the Native Pollinators in Agriculture Project examines how native pollinators can supplement the pollination services provided by managed bees, and in turn increase on-farm productivity and profitability.
In 2007, the Project developed a report that, for the first time, presented findings and recommendations developed by individuals who produce or support the production of food, feed, and fiber. Enhancing Pollination Services and Profitability: An Opportunity for U.S. Agriculture highlights the contributions of native pollinators to agriculture and outlines the actions needed to increase agricultural productivity and profitability by enhancing pollination services provided by both managed and native pollinators.
The time has come for the agricultural community to join together to provide proactive leadership in restoring and expanding populations of managed and native pollinators. The Native Pollinators in Agriculture Project is forming an Agricultural Pollination Alliance through which the agriculture sector can work collaboratively and proactively to establish and protect native pollinator habitat and increase populations of native and managed pollinators. The Alliance will work to gather information, identify priorities, and engage partners and policy makers on the need to address pollination challenges.
In addition to the Alliance, the Native Pollinators in Agriculture Project is focusing its efforts in 2013 in two areas:
- Disseminating information on the success growers have achieved in using native pollinators to supplement the pollination services provided by managed pollinators; and
- Encouraging federal, state and local conservation agencies to support programs and resources that can be used to establish pollinator habitat and increase populations of native and managed pollinators.
What You Can Do
You can help us to further our mission: to educate growers on the role that native pollinators play in enhancing pollination services and profitability, and advocate for programs and resources to establish habitat and increase populations of native and managed pollinators.
- Participate in the Agricultural Pollination Alliance.
- Publish information on the economic importance of native pollinators.
- Provide links to native pollinator websites on your website.
- Invite native pollinator specialists to speak at member meetings.
- Encourage federal and state conservation agencies to emphasize the importance of pollinator habitat in their programs and services to producers.
- Promote “safe harbor” acts to protect growers who establish pollinator habitat.
- Encourage local farm broadcasters to report on native pollinator contributions.
For more information, contact Project Coordinator Ernie Shea at [email protected].