Theres a lull in the Colony collapse disorder world at the moment. But things have been happening on the government front that are interesting. The $4 million grant weve talked about before thats been waiting is a step closer to being granted as one of the three teams competing for the funds has been chosen to be the golden child. But the fat lady hasnt sung yet and they have to go and explain more fully what it is they intend to do, and who will be doing it. (Isnt that what a grant proposal is supposed to do? So who pays for the scientists to go to D.C. and stay at expensive hotels and eat well for a couple three days while all this goes on? Just guess.)
The way this has been handled should be an embarrassment to the USDA because they have mishandled nearly every aspect of this from beginning to end, including who they let bid, and then the reviews of the programs. Their only saving grace is that everyone of the groups vying for the funds are better qualified to handle this operation than those in charge. This certainly leaves a bad taste in the mouths of anyone trying to do business with this government agency.
The winning group heads to DC to defend their project shortly, and unless they royally screw up or the folks in charge dont even show up, work should start later this summer when the money is available. A whole year to make this happen? Isnt this absolutely outrageous?
But the farm bill has finally moved off center and it appears that no matter how much the administration dislikes the bill, and how much they positively bend the truth about their programs or negatively bend the truth about those of the opposition, a veto will be overridden because of bipartisan support in both houses and the money that congress wants to go to CCD research, and pollinator protection, will be set aside. Of course where all this money will come from remains to be seen since the cupboard is essentially bare but at least its on the books and all those who voted for it look good back home.
Specifically, the ARS...(Agriculture Research Service) the research arm of USDA has been appropriated...
Other money was granted to specialty crop pollination and research to the tune of $315 million.
My friend Dick Johnston from New York, who is faster with the numbers than I am, figured out that theres really only $74.25 million allocated for those who are equipped and potentially are involved with honey bee research.
The total farm bill comes to a hefty $307 billion over 5 years.
Still, almost $75 million over 5 years or so isnt chicken feed. Theres other money out there too ... some from USDAs other pockets, some from other government sources, and some from private sources that will help. Yet $15 million/year doesnt come to a lot when you begin dividing it up among lots of scientists and researchers. One of the hidden costs you never see is that a typical university takes, when a professor is given a grant, upwards of 60% right off the top to cover overhead. 40% isnt uncommon. So the government is subsidizing your state University to keep the lights on and the health insurance benefits paid. So that grant proposal the professor put in for, say $1 million really costs only $600,000 since the university takes the rest. Yet that professor gets the credit for the full monty here. Wheres the truth in all this?
I sure dont know.
Theres a whole lot going on about new pesticides in Europe contributing to honey bee decline, and some of it is happening right here in the U.S., and theres a dynamite paper to be published in the next week or so thats not going to be well received by the beekeeping industry because of the self-made problems they have. Itll get reviewed here as soon as the ink is dry.
And, to add a touch of mystery, the cell phone radiation thing is back ... and this time it has legs. Stay tuned.
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