b'NIMAN RANCH FARMER NETWORK TO RESURFACE MONARCH HIGHWAY WITH $200,000 COMMITMENT TO HELP STEM 80 PERCENT LOSS OF ICONIC POLLINATORIn 2019, Niman Ranch set the ambitious goal of building the largest network of independent farmers supporting pollinators over the next decade. The brand, known for its commitment to environmental sustainability and humane animal care, committed $200,000 for farmers to help build pollinator habitat on their land. Pollinators are increasingly in jeopardy due to habitat loss and other stressors. The iconic eastern monarch butterfly population, which migrates through Iowa and other midwestern states where Niman Ranch farmers are clustered, has experienced an 80 percent decline over the past two decades. The decrease in pollinator populations has been dramatic and something I have noticed over the years in Iowa, said Paul Willis, Niman Ranch founding hog farmer. As a young man, I remember fields of monarchs during their annual migration, but today that is not the case. This change inspired me to set aside 136 acres of my farmland to grow a prairie of native plants and flowers that provides safe habitat for birds, bees, butterflies and other pollinators. Today, this piece of land is abuzz with pollinators and is a legacy I am truly proud of.Based on recent survey results, 25 percent of Niman Ranch farmers today have pollinator habitat on their property. Over the next five years, Niman Ranch aims to grow that number. The Niman Ranch network is uniquely positioned to provide a safe corridor for pollinators, including monarchs, to migrate and thrive due to their large number of farms committed to sustainability in key migration routes.ENVIRONMENT 27'