General Mills Contributes to Pollinator Habitats

Kristen Leigh Painter reported recently at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune Online that, “General Mills has made its largest contribution to help save pollinators, announcing a $2 million commitment that will add more than 100,000 acres of bee and butterfly habitat on or near existing crop lands.

“The five-year agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Xerces Society, the world’s oldest and largest pollinator conservation group, will focus its efforts in Minnesota, North Dakota, California, Nebraska, Iowa and Maine. The USDA and Xerces will match this donation with another $2 million toward the project.

“Gaining support from large corporations is a key step, conservationists say, in reversing the decline of pollinators that are needed to reproduce food crops and plants.”

The Star-Tribune article noted that, “The investment will support six new field biologists in these regions who will work with General Mills’ suppliers to implement a pollinator habitat plan. With private landowners managing more than 70 percent of all land on the United States mainland, the USDA and nonprofit organizations must rely on corporate and other private partners if they are to stop the decline of pollinators, said Jason Weller, conservation service chief of the federal department.”

Ms. Painter added that, “Farmers and ranchers will opt-in to the new program and receive a science-based plan from these field researchers tailored to their individual situations. [Jerry Lynch, chief sustainability officer for General Mills] said they have found ‘a great willingness to experiment’ among their suppliers.

“‘Farmers are very open to putting habitat into their farming operations because they care a lot about the land that produces the food,’ Lynch said.

These habitats will vary from farm to farm, but will seek to address three core issues contributing to the decline in pollinator populations: flowers to eat, places to nest and refuge from pesticides. Some may be changes in processes while others will be the addition of plants and grasses in buffer zones of fields, areas that are not being used to grow crops.”

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