Herbicide use and increased cultivation of genetically modified crops have caused a severe decline in milkweed and monarch butterfly populations. But recent innovative uses for milkweed fiber have piqued the interest of some innovative farmers in the Northeast.
Milkweed production provides ecological benefits including semi-permanent soil cover and monarch butterfly, pollinator and other wildlife habitat. Additionally, milkweed can provide a specialty fiber crop that enables farmers to meet a new market demand for natural fibers while adapting to climate change and having less environmental impact.
With these benefits, it makes sense that interest is growing. UVM Extension Northwest Crops and Soils Program has been investigating the feasibility of producing milkweed as a commercial crop with farmers in Vermont. The Center is now conducting an economic case study as part of our climate adaptation case study series with NRCS and the NE Climate Hub.