Funny Business

Cranberries, Crustaceans, and The Sex Life of the Fly

Claps and congratulations to the cranberry and crawfish cultivators for courage, charisma, and commitment. They didn't let Ronald Reagan get away with it.

Reagan's remarks in his State of the Union address about unnecessary federal spending on such projects as cranberry and crawfish research may have elicited a few chuckles, but Capitol Hill lawmakers and researchers around the country were fuming at the slight. "Frankly, I don't see what's so funny about cranberry research," said Rep. Don Bonker (D-Wash.), whose home district includes many of his state's cranberry growers.

The president's jab at wildflower research also created an uproar. Said Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), who acquired $50,000 seed money for native wildflower research at New Mexico State University, "My own view is that it is better to spend $50,000 in New Mexico for research on the propagation of wildflowers than to send $8 million to the contras."

Rep. E. (Kika) de la Garza (D-Tex.), chair of the House Agricultural Committee, added, "When we started studying the sex life of a fly, eventually that became the screw worm eradication program. It saved several billion dollars for ranchers and cattle breeders. But anybody would call it pork barrel when you study the sex life of a fly."

Ferret Breeder Makes Good

Officials at the U.S. Department of Agriculture aren't laughing either, but for a different reason. In late November a press release went out on official USDA stationery, announcing that "A prominent northern Virginia ferret breeder has been appointed head of the Department of Agriculture's Office of Information."

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