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Agriculture Department suspends data collection for honeybees after Trump budget cuts

The U.S. Department of Agriculture temporarily suspended data collection for its Honey Bee Colonies report, citing fiscal cuts as a number of other research programs are scaled back under the Trump administration, CNN reports.

The department’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) said in a statement earlier this week that although it won’t be collecting quarterly data this July for the report, the office still plans to release the annual report at the start of next month. 

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“The report will contain data from Jan. 1, 2018 to April 1, 2019,” the office said. “The Honey Bee Colonies report allows the USDA, beekeepers, and other interested parties to compare quarterly losses, additions, and movements and to analyze the data on a state-by-state basis.”

“Before deciding to suspend data collection, NASS reviewed its estimating programs against mission- and user-based criteria as well as the amount of time remaining in the fiscal year to meet its budget and program requirements while maintaining the strongest data in service to U.S. agriculture,” the office continued.

“The decision to suspend data collection was not made lightly but was necessary given available fiscal and program resources,” the office added. “NASS will continue to review its federal agricultural statistical programs using the same criteria to ensure timely, accurate, and useful statistics.” 

According to CNN, the national survey is the third dataset committed to gathering information on bees that has been scaled back under Trump. The survey is also reportedly the only government-overseen dataset that tracks losses to the honeybee population.

Rebecca Boehm, an economist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told CNN that the move is "yet another example of the Trump administration systematically undermining federal research on food safety, farm productivity, and the public interest writ large."

The move comes months after the Trump administration reversed a rule rolled out under the Obama administration that banned the use of pesticides in national wildlife refuges. 

The Obama administration had banned the use of neonicotinoid pesticides in 2014 because of the threat the pesticides posed to pollinators such as bees and butterflies.