DES MOINES, Iowa -- Iowa is already an international leader in the production of corn and soybeans. The Iowa Department of Agriculture wants to make Iowa a leader in growing something else ... milkweed.
Today the Department of Agriculture announced a massive goal for the state of Iowa: creating up to 830,000 acres of butterfly habitat by the year 2038.
The Iowa Monarch Conservation Strategy calls for establish 480,000-830,000 acres for butterflies. Those acres would be planted with up to 188 million stems of milkweed. The plant is the only place were female monarchs lay their eggs.
In the last 20 years 80% of the monarch butterfly population in the United States has disappeared. One of the leading causes is the loss of habitat from pesticide drift. The state is still finalizing where to find the acreage needed for the plan. 830,000 acres would represent 2% of the state's total area.