A monarch butterfly collects nectar from a flower. USDA photo by Charles Bryson.
The USDA’s People’s Garden team is joining the fun at the White House Easter Egg Roll today to introduce the crowds to some very important garden workers – pollinators. Bees, butterflies, bats, birds, and beetles are all crucial to sustaining plant growth, and in fact nearly two-thirds of the foods we often consume are pollinated by bees alone. Doing your part to keep these creatures healthy in turn ensures a nutritious food supply for you and me.
Honey bees are responsible for pollinating more than 100 crops and one out of every three bites of food Americans eat. These foods give our diet diversity, flavor, and nutrition. Over the past few decades, there has been a significant loss of pollinator habitat and pollinators, including honey bees, native bees, birds, bats, and butterflies, from the environment. Declining pollinator populations across the country pose a threat to our environment, economy and human health, but supporting pollinators is not hard to do. Read more »
This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.
If you’re like me, the holidays are a time to pack our bags and set off to visit family members and loved ones. When my family goes on a road trip — with what seems like half the country doing the same thing — the driver is always asked helpful questions like, “Do you know where you’re going?” or “Are we there yet?” At USDA, we’re often revisiting the same questions and potential solutions as we develop plans to strengthen the rural economy.
Tackling the problems rural America faces is not unlike a family road trip. Directions are needed to help steer USDA programs supporting rural America toward our goals: “Do you know where you’re going?” As it turns out, the answer to this question is an enthusiastic, “Yes!” Read more »
Often I am asked to participate in events in my role as a Deputy Undersecretary. Other times I participate based on my heritage, as a member of the Mescalero Apache Tribe. Sometimes, the lines blur, as they did recently when I addressed those attending the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign meeting here at USDA.
Pollinator health is tied closely to the overall health of ecosystems. Pollinators are important to producers of a wide variety of crops, and to forest health. Native Americans grasp how all things are interconnected. I told the audience that when I was a boy, my relatives would sing songs in Apache. These songs were about things in nature: evergreens, water, even the rocks. All things are tied to Mother Earth: all things work together. So it is with pollinators. Read more »
Mexican free-tailed bats exiting Bracken Bat Cave. Photo credit: USFWS/Ann Froschauer
Most people associate pollination with bees and birds but often forget the work of their furry colleagues: bats. Bats take the night shift, playing a major role in pollinating crops and spreading seeds.
One important bat is the Mexican long-nose bat, which dwells in large colonies. Their range includes the southern parts of Texas, California, New Mexico and Arizona. Read more »
Evening primrose flower (Onagraceae). (US Forest Service)
Plants provide us with many things that we use on a daily basis – from the buildings in which we live and work, to our clothing and food. For flowering plants to thrive and reproduce, they often rely on pollinators to transport pollen between flowers.
Pollination ultimately results in fruits and seeds, ranging from the strawberries and almonds in your breakfast to the tomatoes in your pasta sauce. While scientists know a lot about honeybees, very little is known about many other pollinators – bats, birds, bees, butterflies, moths, flies, etc. – that are essential to pollinating wildflowers and native plants. Read more »
One year ago this week, I was honored to be sworn in as Deputy Secretary of USDA.
Along with Secretary Vilsack, I have had the privilege to lead a remarkable team here at USDA as we have worked to implement the 2014 Farm Bill, create a one-stop-shop for new farmers and ranchers seeking access to resources as they begin their farm businesses and lead a nation-wide discussion about who our next generation of farmers and farm leaders will be.
I am most proud of the opportunities that I have had to meet, learn from, and support the thousands of new farmers and ranchers that I have met during my first year in office. As a daughter of farmers, shaping the future of farming and ranching is incredibly personal for me. Our nation’s farmers and ranchers are exceptionally productive, passionate stewards of our land and it is essential they have all the tools they need to be successful business people. Read more »