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Letter to Herb Kohl and Robert Bennett, Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Subcommittee on Agriculture, Re: Action on Honeybee Crisis Threatening Agriculture

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By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


Letter to Herb Kohl and Robert Bennett, Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Subcommittee on Agriculture, Re: Action on Honeybee Crisis Threatening Agriculture

Clinton Joins Boxer and Casey in Call for Action on Honeybee Crisis Threatening Agriculture

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) today announced that she has joined Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Bob Casey (D-PA) and a bipartisan coalition of colleagues to urge Senate leaders to support efforts to protect the nation's declining honeybee population. In a letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, the Senators called for an increase of $20 million in honeybee research funding for Fiscal Year 2009. The emergence of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), which is decimating American honeybees, poses a serious risk to the nation's food supply, a full third of which depend on honeybees and pollinator services.

"A serious decline in the honeybee population would have devastating consequences for our nation's farms. Growers in New York, California, Pennsylvania and across the country know how serious this challenge is," Senator Clinton said. "I am pleased to join with Senators Boxer and Casey to call for aggressive action on this important issue."

Senator Clinton has co-sponsored two pieces of legislation to address the recent rapid decline of the honeybee population. The Pollinator Protection Act of 2007, introduced in the Senate last year, would enhance funding for research on honeybees and other pollinators to examine CCD, which has been blamed for the rapid decline in the honeybee population. The bill would also require that an annual report be submitted to the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry on the status and progress of the bee research projects.

The Pollinator Habitat Protection Act of 2007, also introduced in the Senate last year, would utilize existing farm bill conservation programs to strengthen both native and managed pollinator habitats and does not require additional funding. One of the factors leading to the decline in pollinator populations is habitat degradation and the lack of adequate food sources. The bill would require existing conservation programs to acknowledge pollinator habitats as a conservation resource and rewards producers whose conservation practices are beneficial for pollinators.

The text of the Senators' letter appears below:

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 to provide sustainable research and combat 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.

Sincerely,


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