The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has released a report titled “USDA Could Enhance Pesticide and Fertilizer Usage Data, Improve Outreach, and Better Leverage Resources.” GAO was asked to investigate the effect of budgetary cutbacks on a program that gathers, analyzes and disseminates information about the use of agricultural chemicals. According to the report, the cutbacks forced data users to rely on older statistics, “which hindered their ability to make informed decisions because agricultural chemical use can change from year to year due to the emergence of new pests, weather variations, changing market conditions, and other factors.”

GAO recommends various improvements to the system, including incorporating data from other publicly available sources, minimizing potential overlap with other data sources and identifying and consulting with data users on a regular basis.