by Carol Brown
The loss of a little butterfly could have big implications for Iowa farmers. The eastern monarch butterfly population has decreased 80 percent during the past two decades. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) will decide in 2019 if the iconic orange and black insect should be considered a threatened or endangered species.
The consequence of such a designation, ag leaders say, could lead to new regulations and restrictions on herbicide and pesticide use. Iowa State University (ISU) began the Monarch Conservation Consortium in 2015 to help restore monarch habitat and increase their population, which could be advantageous for farmers. The consortium, which includes the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) and representatives from 42 other organizations, encourages farmers to make changes on the landscape — planting and preserving milkweeds — to help monarchs and themselves
“If a stable population of migrating monarchs is going to be sustained, there needs to be enough breeding habitat available to complete its lifecycle in Iowa and across the entire breeding range,” says Theo Gunther, ISA’s representative on the consortium...