Monday, November 05, 2007

An earfull about earmarks for grape research

See Katie Couric for the prosecution:
Congress has earmarked more than $11 million dollars so far for the building and hundreds of thousands more for research. That’s not to be confused with the $2.6 million they've earmarked to study grapes out in California.

It's not as if Uncle Sam wasn't already investing millions a year in grape research: there are 25 full-time federal scientists working on nothing but grapes. The special earmarks are tax dollars added on top of that by individual members of Congress.
And Dr. Vino for the defense:
A “CBS Evening News with Katie Couric” story is shocked, shocked! to learn that $11 million of “your tax dollars” have been allocated to conduct research on wine grapes including a $2.6 million research facility at Cornell.

But they have it wrong: it’s not shockingly bad news, it’s new news. And it’s good news.

Ever since the repeal of Prohibition, the federal government has been reluctant to fund grape research. In fact, in the 1930s, after Repeal, FDR’s Department of Agriculture proposed a wine research facility to be funded with federal funds and help the industry get back on its feet. However, an influential Dry congressman unilaterally vetoed the project wanting to prevent the evil “fermentation.” Since then the federal government has been reluctant to fund wine grape research.

So this $11 million should be seen as a real breakthrough, evidence that the federal government is actually doing something to support wine.

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