Almond growers who support efforts to expand the habitat and forage for honeybees and other native pollinators now have another pot of money to help them pay for that important work.
In August, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced a $1.7 million grant to Pollinator Partnership and partners from the California almond, wine, dairy, and cattle industries. The Almond Board of California (ABC) is pleased to be a part of this program and, together with Pollinator Partnership, a founding member of the California Pollinator Coalition.
The coalition was formed in April 2021 and includes more than 20 agriculture, conservation and government organizations. Their shared goal is to provide enhanced habitat for pollinators.
The grant money will be used to underwrite a portion of the cost for growers and ranchers in 10 counties to plant new pollinator habitat or expand the use of integrated pest management (IPM) practices. The eligible counties are Fresno, Madera, Merced, Monterey, Napa, Stanislaus, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Sonoma.
Details about how and when growers can apply for the money are expected to be announced later this year. The NRCS is working with the Pollinator Partnership to finalize the grant.
Josette Lewis, ABC’s chief scientific officer, said the grant “is a great manifestation the power of the coalition to bring partners together to make a difference on the ground” and importantly adds vineyards, dairies and cattle ranches to the farmers eligible to receive funding.
For almond growers, one of the important aspects of the new grant is that there will be no income restrictions on who can receive incentives for planting hedgerows or conservation cover around their orchards, add cover crops in between rows or incorporate pollinator-friendly IPM methods such as mating disruption for navel orangeworm.
“This program does not have the income caps that has been hard for a lot of almond growers to be able to access NRCS programs,” Lewis said. “You don’t have to be a big almond grower before you hit that income cap that normally is applied to NRCS programs. This opens the window to growers to access funds more easily.”
Lewis also said the grant “demonstrates that the coalition isn’t just talking about our commitment to pollinators, but actually doing things to expand pollinator forage and habitat on working lands.”
Lewis hopes to have more information about how almond growers can participate in the new program in time to share in December at the annual Almond Conference in Sacramento.
The California Pollinator Coalition – convened by Pollinator Partnership, the California Department of Food and Agriculture and the Almond Board – is made up of a diverse group of agricultural and conservation organizations. The coalition and its members pledge to increase habitat for pollinators on working lands. Additionally, the group promotes research and track its progress toward healthy and abundant habitats.
– Almond Board of California