USDA to spend $4 million to aid Midwest monarch butterflies

Monarch butterflies
These monarch butterflies were photographed in Brookings County, S.D., by USDA entomologist Jonathan Lundgren in 2014.
Courtesy Jonathan Lundgren | USDA

The United States Department of Agriculture is launching a new program to encourage farmers to plant habitat for monarch butterflies.

The agency plans to spread $4 million across 10 Midwestern and Great Plains states, including Minnesota, to encourage farmers to plant milkweed and other plants critical for the butterflies to thrive. Experts say loss of habitat is contributing to the monarchs' decline.

The monarch initiative expands on a successful pollinator habitat program in Michigan, Minnesota and the Dakotas and also will benefit bees and other beneficial insects, said Leonard Jordan, associate chief for conservation with USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service.

"We were able to put the right habitat on about 35,000 acres, so there was interest in that particular effort and we think that we will have equal interest in this monarch effort as well," he said.

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