Conservation SWAT surfaces endangered species policy ideas

Listing of the monarch butterfly could have significant impact on farming practices, says team chairman.

Conservation _swat _surfaces _endangered _species _policy _ideas _1_636426455044868000

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is helping develop a regional monarch flyway plan covering states throughout the Midwest. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will consider the plan before determining whether to list monarchs as a threatened or endangered species by June 30, 2019. (Photo courtesy of USDA)

By Kay Shipman

The possibility monarch butterflies could join a national list of threatened and endangered species brought the potential impact to Illinois farms and Illinois Farm Bureau conservation leaders.

The Conservation and Natural Resources (CNR) Strength with Advisory Team (SWAT) recently forwarded ideas to bolster IFB policy on the Endangered Species Act to the Resolutions Committee for its consideration.

“We identified this (Endangered Species Act) as an issue at the beginning of the year and discussed all year how it could affect Illinois agriculture,” CNR SWAT Chairman Brent Pollard told FarmWeek.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is helping develop a regional monarch flyway plan covering states throughout the Midwest. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will consider the plan before determining whether to list monarchs as a threatened or endangered species by June 30, 2019.

Pollard shared his team’s efforts to learn about the federal policy and its impact on farmers. SWAT members talked with California Farm Bureau experts about the challenges farmers face there. Some CNR SWAT members shared personal experiences with endangered species impacts in other states.

“We discussed what we could do as a team,” Pollard added. “If the monarch butterfly gets listed (as a threatened or endangered species), it has the potential to completely change the farming practices on our farms.”

Lyndsey Ramsey, IFB associate director of natural and environmental resources, said current IFB policy takes a narrow stance on the Endangered Species Act, which is indicative of the state’s limited experience with the federal law.

CNR SWAT members reviewed American Farm Bureau Federation policy and deliberated ways to share IFB viewpoints with state and federal agencies as well as assist IFB staff working on endangered species issues, Ramsey noted.

“CNR SWAT members felt they wanted to tailor endangered species policy for Illinois and put the topic in the forefront and inform our members at annual meeting,” Ramsey said.

Pollard described CNR SWAT’s general policy idea as “more carrot than hammer” with support for voluntary incentives for endangered species programs. “We have voluntary incentives with the Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy and it is helping us meet goals,” he added.

Team members also focused on ensuring farmers and their views are part of state and national discussions on endangered species.

“We need to be at the table. Farmers are one of the most important components because they manage so much land,” Ramsey said.

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