Niman Ranch Farmer Network to Resurface Monarch Highway with $200,000 Commitment to Help Stem 80% Loss of Iconic Pollinator
Des Moines, IA – Niman Ranch, a leader in sustainable agriculture and humane livestock practices, celebrated its 21st Annual Hog Farmer Appreciation Dinner in Des Moines by committing $200,000 to help farmers expand or adopt new sustainable farming practices to protect pollinators, build soil health and preserve water quality. With a theme of resilience, the celebration focused on efforts that promote both economic success for the farmer and ecological sustainability, including an emphasis on monarch butterfly and other pollinator habitat conservation. Niman Ranch has the goal of building the largest network of independent farmers supporting pollinators.
“Sustainability is a foundational value for Niman Ranch and our network of 740 independent family farmers,” said Chris Oliviero, Niman Ranch General Manager. “Our farmers have always led the way in using traditional livestock practices that work in concert with nature and support biodiversity. This new infusion of $200,000 will help Niman Ranch farmers adopt new practices that will help build a more resilient future.” More than 500 gathered in Des Moines including farmers, chefs, Niman Ranch customers and food and agriculture leaders to hear the announcement honoring the farming community.
These resources will go directly to Niman Ranch farmers, who will have the opportunity to apply for funds to expand sustainable agriculture practices that are relevant for their unique farm and land. “Adopting new sustainable farming practices requires time and money, two things farmers often don’t have to spare. We hope that these funds will provide the stability farmers need to make expanded sustainable farming practices possible,” continued Oliviero.
The new sustainability commitment kicked off with a focus on protecting pollinators, which are increasingly in jeopardy due to habitat loss and other stressors. The iconic eastern monarch butterfly population, which migrates through Iowa and other midwestern states, has experienced an 80% decline over the past two decades. “The decrease in pollinator populations has been dramatic and something I have noticed over the years in Iowa,” said Paul Willis, Niman Ranch founding hog farmer. “As a young man, I remember fields of monarchs during their annual migration, but today that is not the case. This change inspired me to set aside 136 acres of my farmland to grow a prairie of native plants and flowers that provides safe habitat for birds, bees, butterflies and other pollinators. Today this piece of land is abuzz with pollinators and is a legacy I am truly proud of.”