Problems Plagued Department of Agriculture's Grasshopper Control Program in 1979

CED-80-95: Published: Aug 11, 1980. Publicly Released: Aug 11, 1980.

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The Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) did not adequately manage the program to control grasshoppers in 17 Western States in 1979. Efforts by Federal and State officials and local participants were not sufficiently coordinated. Management weaknesses reduced the ability of the local project managers of APHIS to effectively identify areas to be sprayed to control grasshoppers, schedule spraying operations at the best times, and evaluate the effectiveness of the spraying. Although grasshoppers cause economic losses in the United States each year, the 1979 infestation reached levels unprecedented since the 1930s.

APHIS has initiated some actions to improve program management and has plans for others. These actions include: (1) developing uniform rules, information, and guidelines for nationwide use in administering and explaining the programs; (2) clarifying the responsibilities of all participants; (3) developing and conducting an annual training program for key personnel; (4) establishing a strike force of trained personnel; (5) evaluating the extent to which program benefits exceed costs; (6) establishing entrance and withdrawal deadlines for participation; and (7) encouraging the use of the best types and sizes of aircraft for each project's size and terrain. GAO believes these corrective actions will help prevent future programs from having the many problems experienced in 1979.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture should direct the APHIS Administrator to: (1) prepare a cost/benefit analysis of including cropland in the Grasshopper Control Program; (2) study the pros and cons of making participation of landowners in infested areas mandatory, including an assessment of the problems that would be encountered in implementing a mandatory program; and (3) provide the results of both studies, together with any recommended changes, to the appropriate legislative committees.

    Agency Affected:

 

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