A U.S. Farm Bill even a butterfly could love?

As Congress considers updated funding for food and agriculture, it’s also pondering a proposal to favor native plants on conservation land.

March 20, 2018 — Sometime soon — maybe this year, maybe next — biologist Jeffrey Glassberg expects to say goodbye to the Poweshiek skipperling. The endangered, orange-and-brown butterfly is one of several species in the Upper Midwest’s prairies on the slippery slope toward extinction. In the past decade, it appears to have winked out in the Dakotas, Iowa and Minnesota, leaving only a scattered few individuals in Michigan, Wisconsin and Manitoba.

As founder and president of the North American Butterfly Association, Glassberg finds their twilight wrenching. “I can’t tell you how painful this whole thing is,” he says.

Prairie butterflies owe their troubles largely to the conversion of native grasslands — among the most diverse ecosystems on the planet — to row-crop agriculture. Only about 4 percent of America’s prairie remains, according to the National Park Service; one report found that the Great Plains lost more grassland in 2014 than Brazil’s Amazon lost forest. Grassland conversion also has fueled disturbing declines in other pollinating insects — which provide some US$9 billion a year in agricultural benefits in the U.S. — and grassland birds, whose populations have plummeted more steeply and consistently in recent decades than any other group of North American birds.

Read more at https://ensia.com/articles/farm-bill/


  1. This is it, this Farmbill thru CRP’s future, will decide the fate of many grassland species, even those recognized for their economic importance, i.e. Pheasants, quail, etc. We need 44 million acres on the docket! Let trained wildlife biologists write the program’s parameters, and give then authority with compliance checks. Urge your lawmakers to do this! I applaud Pheasants Forever for their legislative efforts on the Farmbill as well.

  2. Who are the Congresspersons and their staffs who need to be contacted/petitioned/testified in front of to maintain and/or restore prairies? Is there a fact sheet or other information available that shows the benefits of restoration? Thanks.

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