As we approach the peak of summer, farmers and farm workers are feeling the impact of heat waves, wildfire smoke and flooding in several parts of the country. WFA continues to spread the message about the benefits of on-farm habitat for climate resilience, heat refuge, soil health, and pest control. In this month’s enews, we are excited to share with you an interview with a farmer who installed habitat on his ranch with support from WFA and California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Healthy Soil Program (HSP). We also share a new opportunity for California farmers and ranchers to work one-on-one with WFA to develop conservation plans that incorporate practices that will support birds, wildlife, beneficial insects, resiliency and more. In addition, we highlight the latest report from American Bird Conservancy covering the impacts of neonicotinoid pesticides on birds. And finally, on the policy side, we share a legislative win in Oregon and ask you to take action, urging your members of Congress to support three farming bills at the federal level.
Enjoy this month’s news from the wild!
Meet the Farmer Series: Supporting Biodiversity in an Apple Orchard
Peter Serventi has an affinity for manzanitas. In a recently planted hedgerow on his 26 acre ranch, he’s got four different varieties. The word manzanita literally translates to “little apple” and on a ranch growing apples as the primary crop, this seems an apropos choice.
Peter and his wife, Erin, purchased the apple orchard in Watsonville, California eight years ago and knew they had their work cut out for them. The trees were aging out and the land–which had been managed conventionally–had only a few areas that supported wildlife. In addition to replanting the apple orchard, they wanted to incorporate habitat for beneficial birds and insects.
With financial support from the Healthy Soils Program and guidance from Wild Farm Alliance's Nick Filannino, Peter and Erin planned and installed two hedgerows along the field and road edges. They are excited about the benefits to their farm and the ability of the hedgerows to sequester carbon.
WFA Provides FREE Technical Assistance for California Farmers
Wild Farm Alliance is excited to announce that we have received funding from the California Department of Food and Agriculture to support California farmers in completing conservation plans for their farms. Interested farmers can work with us to create one of the following types of plans: Beneficial Bird Habitat Plan, Pollinator Habitat Plan and Carbon Farm Plan. Together, we will assess your farm’s natural resources and concerns, identify multiple opportunities for improvements and prioritize plans for the best outcomes.
The completed plans will include some of the following: a) an overview of your objectives, b) your current farm conditions, c) a timeline for planting, d) site preparation, e) plant lists, and f) maintenance. The plans will help you be better prepared when applying for assistance with state and federal agencies such as CDFA and NRCS.
Some of the many practices that could be outlined in the plans include:
If you are interested in working with us to create a conservation plan, please complete the interest form at the link below and we will be in touch.
New Report Reveals Neonic Impacts on Birds
Neonicotinoid insecticides (“neonics”) were introduced in the 1990s and quickly gained dominance in global pesticide markets. They remain the most widely-used insecticides in parts of the world where they have not been banned. In 2013, American Bird Conservancy (ABC) produced a ground-breaking report “The Impact of the Nation’s Most Widely Used Insecticides on Birds” (Mineau and Palmer 2013) outlining the substantial risks that this new class of mobile and persistent insecticides placed on both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and the likely ripple effects on the wildlife species that depend on these ecosystems, notably birds. Because of their use as seed treatments, exposure routes are plentiful and lead to substantial exposure.
In their new 2023 report, ABC looks at the recent science that continues to support earlier fears of major impacts to birds, as well as the inadequate regulatory response by the EPA and other regulators to address our increasing knowledge base. ABC and Wild Farm Alliance continue to believe that preventing large numbers of birds from being debilitated on farm fields by neonics is the correct biological and ethical standard against which we should hold pesticides.
Beaver Believer Bill Wins Bipartisan Support
In the recent Oregon legislative session, WFA supported the “Beaver Believer Bill” (HB 3464), a bill that allows the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) to manage beavers on private land as it does with other species. Importantly, it ends the era of unlimited, permitless killing of Oregon’s state animal on private lands. Western Environmental Law Center (WELC) led the effort to pass the bill and we submitted our Connecting with Wild Neighbors issue on Beavers as testimony during the committee process.
The Oregon Senate passed the bill on a bipartisan vote and we expect Gov. Kotek to sign the bill soon. “We are thrilled that, after many previous attempts to improve beaver management in Oregon with similar legislation, the ‘Beaver Believer Bill’ passed this year with bipartisan support,” said Sristi Kamal, Ph.D., deputy director of WELC. “I am so grateful to Rep. Marsh for her tireless work to inform her colleagues about this straightforward way to bring beaver management into the 21st century in Oregon. This bill will promote coexistence with beavers, benefit native fish, improve Oregon’s wildfire and drought resilience, and help mitigate the climate crisis.”
Take Action: Federal Legislation Supports Climate Solutions For Farmers
Small Farm Conservation Act
Agriculture Resilience Act (ARA)
Converting Our Waste Sustainably (COWS) Act
Tell your legislators that you support this bill and ask them to join as a co-sponsor.
Support Expansion of Habitat Tool for Farmers and Land Planners
Thank you for supporting our nature-driven vision to bring nature back to our farms and ranches. WFA is currently raising funds to adapt our California Beneficial Bird Habitat Assessment and Native Plant Tool to a web-based application that will highlight birds and native plants wherever a farmer might be - allowing anyone across the country to use it to add biodiversity to their farms. Farmers and planners across California have already successfully used this tool and several growers and planners from other states have reached out asking us to expand the tool for their area. Our work to expand the tool is underway, but we need your help to ensure we capture the most accurate data and resources from coast to coast. Will you make a donation today to help us expand our tool?