Continuing a series of oversight hearings on government spending,the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Nutrition and Horticulture met in early July to scrutinize specialty crop programs. Topics covered included invasive species research, pesticide use reports, and the ability of U.S. farmers markets to handle EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) transactions.

Federal regulation of pesticides has been a hot-button issue for years. Ohio Rep. Jean Schmidt, who chairs the subcommittee, asked what conclusions were drawn from the annual Pesticide Data Program report released this spring.

“It’s an important report because it shows the historical trends in terms pesticide use throughout the United States,” said Rayne Pegg, administrator of the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). “It looks at pesticide usage for all the different commodities primarily consumed in the marketplace.”

For more, see witness written testimony.  

“It is indicating that we’re seeing pesticide use, over time, (declining),” continued Pegg. “There’s a change in trends regarding pesticide use – producers are moving to ‘softer’ chemicals.

“The annual report also shows pesticide residues found on foods tested at levels below tolerances established by EPA.”

Not only does the pesticide report “help inform EPA in terms of trends in (pesticide) usage but it is also used in discussions with foreign countries when they ask about pesticide usage for various commodities to set maximum residue limits,” said Pegg.