Washington, DC - U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) on Friday led a
bipartisan group of 18 Senators in writing to the Chairman and Ranking
Member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, calling
for $20 million in funding for research to address the recent decline in
the honeybee population in order to avoid a devastating impact on U.S.
agriculture. The bill has been passed in the Senate, but is stalled in the House.


Meanwhile, in the Palm Beach Post today, Dr. Jeff Pettis is quoted saying that the losses this year from CCD appear to be worse than last year. His survey shows that of the 22 commercial beekeepers he surveyed, coming from 10 different states, all of whom went to California to pollinate almonds, operating a total of 230,000 colonies (about 16% of the bees that went to California this season), about 37% have been lost to CCD like symptoms. This compares to a similar survey last year at this time where only a 30% loss was recorded. That’s a 20% increase this year, so far.

Reports and unofficial surveys taken by this office tend to support this figure, covering in the neighborhood of 50,000 colonies, all in California to pollinate almonds, after talking to beekeepers, pollination brokers and researchers since the end of almond bloom. However, as with the Pettis survey, these figures are limited and preliminary, but the trend is not healthy.

Kevin Hackett, the National Program leader for honey bee research, too, is looking for funding, and said in an interview that of the $7.7 million budget he has available for honey bee research, 80% was going to CCD studies. "We do believe bees are under so many stresses, they are not making it through the winter in a robust condition.", he said. That seems to be somewhat understated.

The text of Boxer’s letter to Senators Kohl and Bennett follows:

 March, 19 2007
The Honorable Herb Kohl, Chairman
SD-13l Dirksen Senate Office Building
Subcommittee on Agriculture
Committee on Appropriations
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Robert Bennett, Ranking Member
SD-13l Dirksen Senate Office Building
Subcommittee on Agriculture
Committee on Appropriations
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Kohl and Ranking Member Bennett,

We are writing to request that the Agriculture Appropriations
Subcommittee allocate $20 million in Fiscal Year 2009 funding for
honeybee and pollinator research projects. These funds will go a long
way in providing sustainable research and combating Colony Collapse
Disorder (CCD) in managed honeybees. The President's budget proposal
only includes an increase of $780,000 from FY2008 for CCD.

As you know, the Senate-passed version of the farm bill includes
language authorizing $100 million over five years for CCD and pollinator
related research initiatives.  We feel that the vital role pollination
services play in the nation's agricultural industry merits a FY2009
appropriation in line with the levels authorized in the farm bill.  

 As former U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns starkly warned in June
of 2007, the continued decline in honeybees and emergence of CCD "has
the potential to cause a $15 billion direct loss of crop production and
$75 billion in indirect losses."  Pollinators are responsible for the
production of one-third of the nation's food supply, yet Federal support
of pollinator and honeybee health research has historically been
unreflective of the importance of pollination.  

We have taken for granted the indispensable services honeybees and other
pollinators provide our nation.  The number of managed honeybee colonies
in the
U.S. has dropped in half since 1960, while demand for their
services in agriculture has continued to grow.  Ninety percent of the
nation's existing hives are predicted to be needed to pollinate
California's 2012 almond crop alone.  In other states, farmers who produce apples, melons, berries, peaches, squash, and many other fruits
and vegetables depend on healthy pollinators.   

Because of the importance of honeybees/pollinators in the production of
the nation's food supply and their impact on the stability of our
agricultural economy, it is essential that the Federal government help
establish sustainable, long-term, research initiatives dedicated to
protecting pollinator health and finding immediate solutions to CCD.

With a $20 million investment this year in CCD and pollinator health
research, we can begin to take steps toward providing the scientific
community with the resources it needs to pursue vital investigations
into the complex pollinator systems that our nation's agricultural
activities are dependant upon.

With broad consensus from farmers, beekeepers, scientists and
legislators on the need to fund pollinator research, we hope your
Subcommittee will see the appropriation as more than a justifiable
expenditure, and make a decisive investment in the future and safety of
our nation's food supply.

Thank you for your time and consideration of this important matter.


U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer
U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow
U.S. Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr.
U.S. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton
U.S. Senator Christopher J. Dodd
U.S. Senator Robert P. Casey
U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders
U.S. Senator John F. Kerry
U.S. Senator Tim Johnson
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer
U.S. Senator Robert Menendez
U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye
U.S. Senator Arlen Specter
U.S. Senator Richard J. Durbin
U.S. Senator Jack Reed
U.S. Senator Ron Wyden
U.S. Senator Bill Nelson
U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown


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