Monarch butterflies and their relationship with agriculture has come under intense scrutiny. We hear more and more about the plight of the butterfly and its relationship to the use of herbicides. The iconic insect relies on the milkweed plant for the survival of its larvae. The increased use of some herbicide programs has all but illuminated milkweed populations in rural America. However, through conservation efforts and working together with environmentalists, agriculture has been active in trying to restore habitats for the monarch butterfly.
Not only are herbicide programs partially responsible for the decrease of numbers of monarch butterflies, but pesticide usage has also caused a detriment to their numbers. Environmentalists have long been concerned with the drop in numbers. In response, they have petitioned the US government to label them as an endangered species. earlier this week, the US Fish and Wildlife service reevaluated the state of the monarch butterfly population and made a ruling.
On Tuesday, the US Fish and Wildlife Service announced it will leave the monarch butterfly off the endangered species list. The agency said that their decision was warranted but precluded which means the monarch will still be considered a candidate species. Ryan Yates is the American Farm Bureau Federation public policy managing director and he says that this is a good announcement.
Every year, monarch butterflies migrate from Mexico to Canada across a large swath of the United States. Yates says this creates an opportunity when you’re looking to enhance the conservation of the species.
Yates says that farmers and ranchers have done a lot to become part of the solution for the butterfly.
Iowa is just one of the many states that the monarch butterflies travel through on their migration from Mexico to Canada and back again each winter.