6/18/24 • EnvironmentSustainability

Corn Refiners Celebrate National Pollinator Week

By Max Camateros-Mann, Manager of Sustainability and Workplace Safety

As we celebrate National Pollinator Week, the Corn Refiners Association is calling attention to monarch butterflies, their importance to agriculture, and how CRA members are providing important habitats for this iconic species.

Every year, millions of monarch butterflies born in the winter habitats of Mexico and the southern United States will finish their northward migration. Each June, the migration settles into its new summer homes after traveling northward. The children of these butterflies will be born in Canada and the northern United States and later undergo the same journey in reverse – traveling 3,000 miles back to warmth in an astonishing display of the species’ resilience.

Despite the monarch’s notable endurance however, its populations have declined more than 80% in the last 20 years, leading the International Union for the Conservation of Nature to list the iconic butterfly as endangered in 2021. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will consider a similar decision at the end of 2024. Much of this decline is due to the decreasing numbers of the monarch’s favorite plant: milkweed. The butterflies lay their eggs exclusively on milkweed and it serves as the only source of food for monarch caterpillars. Thus, as milkweed populations have fallen, so have the monarch butterflies.

The Monarch’s Impact on Agriculture

The monarch butterfly and other pollinators like it are crucial partners in agriculture. They ensure the viability of the next generation of crops and improve the quality of yields, as well-pollinated plants tend to produce stronger yields. They also contribute to biodiversity by pollinating non-crop plants and acting as a vital part of the food chain. Biodiverse farms are more resilient, predictable, and efficient. Scientists estimate 35% of world food crop production is dependent on pollinators and USDA estimates pollinators add more than $18 billion to the US economy, underscoring the importance of protecting monarchs and other pollinators.

CRA Has Their Back

CRA and its members recognize the value of monarchs, both as pollinators and as one of North America’s most iconic species. We are proud to partner with Farmers for Monarchs (FFM), an organization working throughout the agricultural supply chain to organize efforts to help combat the butterfly’s population decline.

Our members are doing their part as well! ADM’s Cedar Rapids, Iowa, facility installed five acres of pollinator habitat – including milkweed – to serve as a fueling station for monarchs along their migration route. Primient’s Decatur, Illinois, facility maintains more than 20 acres of pollinator habitat, featuring more than 30 species of plants to support monarchs and other pollinator species!

There’s more work to be done. CRA will continue to raise awareness of the importance of protecting them and other pollinators for agriculture, the economy, and the environment. For more information on what you can do to help, please visit our friends at Farmers for Monarchs.

Happy Pollinator Week!