Pollinator Loss Threatens Vital Food Crops


The decline of bees and other pollinators around the world is affecting some of the most nutritionally and economically vital food crops. In response to this issue, the EPA and USDA released a strategy and action plan outlining needs and priority actions to better understand pollinator losses and improve pollinator health.

Last year, beekeepers reported losing about 40% of their honey bee colonies, which presents a significant threat to their livelihoods and the essential pollination bees provide to agriculture. According to the White House, pollination alone adds more than $15 billion in value to agricultural crops in the U.S. each year.

Pesticides are part of the problem as is the loss of habitat. Large single crop fields with neither weeds nor wildflowers give pollinators little to feed on. The government effort is focused on increasing the quantity and quality of habitat for pollinators, including the construction of pollinator gardens at Federal buildings and the restoration of millions of acres of both Federally managed and private lands.

To support these habitat-focused efforts, the USDA and Department of Interior issued a set of Pollinator Friendly Best Management Practices for Federal Lands, providing practical guidance for planners and managers with land stewardship responsibilities. 

The actions will be supported by existing Federal research efforts and a request to Congress for additional resources. The public is encouraged to get involved as well by planting a pollinator garden or setting aside some natural habitat.