Almond growers will get a boost to plant cover crops

Almond growers will soon receive some much-needed sunshine in an otherwise dismal year in the form of access to cash to support efforts to expand the habitat and forage of honey bees, and other native pollinators now have another pot of money to help pay for this important work. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) last summer announced a $1.7 million grant to the Pollinator Partnership and partners in California’s almond, wine, dairy and livestock industries. The Almond Board is pleased to be part of this program and, along with the Pollinator Partnership, a founding member of the California Pollinator Coalition.

The coalition was formed in April 2021 and includes more than 20 agricultural, conservation and government organizations. Their common goal is to provide improved habitat for pollinators.

Almond growers in the state require more than 2 million hives each year, or nearly two-thirds of the captive honey bees in the United States.

The grant money will be used to cover part of the cost for growers and ranchers in 10 counties to plant new pollinator habitat or expand the use of integrated pest management (IPM) practices. Eligible counties are Fresno, Madera, Merced, Monterey, Napa, Stanislaus, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Sonoma.

Details on how and when producers can apply for the money are expected to be announced later this year. The NRCS is working with the Pollinator Partnership to finalize the grant.

Josette Lewis, scientific director of the Almond Board of California, said the grant “is a great manifestation of the coalition’s power to bring partners together to make a difference on the ground” and most importantly adds vineyards to farmers eligible to receive a funding.

ALL ELIGIBLE PRODUCERS

For almond growers, an important aspect of the new subsidy is that there will be no income restrictions on who can receive incentives to plant hedges or conservation cover around their orchards, adding cover crops between rows or incorporate pollinator-friendly IPM methods. like sexual confusion for enemy #1, the Orange Belly Button Worm (NOW).

“This program has no revenue caps. It has been difficult for many almond growers to access NRCS programs,” says Lewis. almond trees to meet the revenue cap that normally applies to NRCS programs. This opens the window for growers to more easily access funds.”

Lewis adds that the grant “demonstrates that the coalition is not just talking about our commitment to pollinators, but actually doing things to expand pollinator forage and habitat on working lands.”

Josette Lewis

Producers have long complained that revenue caps are too low, and Lewis says this latest grant will make a real difference to their practices, which is important for positioning the industry in the minds of the public and officials. governmental.

“It is important that agriculture is recognized as part of the solution for healthy ecosystems, providing evidence to policy makers and the market of the stewardship producers are already demonstrating and their willingness to scale up,” says -she.

Lewis hopes to have more information about how almond growers can participate in the new program in time to share it in December at the annual Almond Conference in Sacramento.

The California Pollinator Coalition — convened by the Pollinator Partnership, the California Department of Food and Agriculture, and the Almond Board — is made up of a diverse group of agricultural and conservation organizations. The coalition and its members are committed to increasing pollinator habitat on working lands. Additionally, the group promotes research and tracks its progress towards healthy and abundant habitats.



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