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Agriculture Department Suspends Critical Tracking Of Plunging Honey Bee Population

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The number of honey bee hives, vital to pollinating crops for the agricultural industry and other plants for wildlife, plummeted from 6 million in 1947 to 2.4 million in 2008.

MARY PAPENFUSS: ‘The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced that it’s suspending tracking the plunging honeybee population because of a budget shortfall… The department will suspend data collection for its Honey Bee Colonies report, and officials did not say when — or if — it would be restarted. It will release data already collected from January 2018 through April of this year.

The Agricultural Department has been a key source of data on the insects, which is critically important to scientists and farmers… Bees help pollinate a third of all the crops Americans eat. A single bee colony can pollinate 300 million flowers each day…

The number of honey bee hives, vital to pollinating crops for the agricultural industry and other plants for wildlife, plummeted from 6 million in 1947 to 2.4 million in 2008. The worst honeybee hive loss on record occurred last winter as beekeepers reported a 40% loss of their colonies over the year.

Critics say the USDA’s move is the latest evidence of the Trump administration’s war on science, and its goal of suppressing information about serious environmental harms increasing under Donald Trump’s presidency.

“This is yet another example of the Trump administration systematically undermining federal research on food safety, farm productivity and the public interest writ large,” Rebecca Boehm, an economist at the Union of Concerned Scientists…

The USDA statement on cutting the program referred to fiscal restraints, but did not detail budget shortfalls nor did it reveal the cost of the program. The USDA is currently arranging to pay farmers an extra $27 billion in subsidies’.  SOURCE…

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