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Special to The Sun—
CHILDRESS – The next time someone snacks on almonds, adds blueberries to a smoothie or eats pumpkin pie, thank a pollinator and thank farmers, ranchers and private forestland owners who work hard to create and maintain their habitat.
Pollinators, such as honeybees, bumblebees, butterflies, birds, bats, flies and many others, play a critical role in crop production. Without pollinators, there would not be many crops.
During the week of June 22-28, the nation will celebrate these iconic and crucial pollinators during National Pollinator Week. This year’s theme is “Pollinators, Plants, People and Planet.”
Thirteen years ago, the U.S. Senate unanimously designated the third week in June as National Pollinator Week to increase awareness about the importance of pollinators and the challenges many of them face, including serious population declines and habitat losses, often because of land use changes and excessive or improper pesticide use. Nearly 200 species of pollinators are considered threatened or extinct.
Pollination occurs when pollen grains are moved between two flowers of the same species, or within a single flower by wind or insects and animals. Successful pollination results in healthy fruit and fertile seeds, allowing the plants to reproduce.
The extensive and critical world of crop pollinators is a $20 billion a year industry. About 75% of crop plants are pollinated by billions of animals and insects every year.
Many federal, state and local government agencies, non-government organizations and universities have launched extensive efforts to protect pollinators, especially honeybees and the Monarch butterfly. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) works closely with farmers, forest landowners and other private landowners to increase pollinator habitat in targeted areas nationwide.
The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), through USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), offers financial incentives to agricultural producers and private forest landowners who enhance pollinator habitat by voluntarily implementing conservation practices such as cover crops, wildflower and native plantings in buffers and areas not in production.
Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) also can be used to enhance habitat to protect pollinators. Administered by USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), CRP is a land conservation program in which enrolled landowners remove environmentally sensitive land from agricultural production and plant species that will improve environmental health and quality.
As owners and stewards of the land, many farmers, ranchers and private forest landowners manage their natural resources to work to achieve their production goals, they are protecting the rich and diverse ecology on or near their operations.
When people protect pollinators, it protects the ability to grow food. Thank the farmers, ranchers and private forest landowners who offer a safe haven for pollinators and grow the products people enjoy.
Whether it’s a large commodity producer, a small and diverse organic producer or even a suburban homeowner, they can have an important role in saving pollinators in Texas.
Help protect pollinators by doing the following:
Plant appropriate vegetation. Use conservation practices and create habitat that sustains and enhance pollinators on the farm, forest or yard.
Use pesticides, herbicides and insecticides carefully on and off the farm, ranch and private forests. Keep operations pollinator friendly.
Protect flowering plants and potential pollinator nesting sites such as areas of undisturbed ground and native vegetation.
For more information, please contact the Childress County USDA/FSA office at 940-937-8624, ext. 2.