GAO’s reports and testimonies give Congress, federal agencies, and the public timely, fact-based, non-partisan information that can improve government operations and save taxpayers billions of dollars.
In 2017, USDA announced a major initiative to provide better customer service to U.S. farmers, ranchers, and foresters by modernizing its IT operations. A key IT project was the 2018 launch of Farmers.gov to provide online self-service applications, like a farm loan eligibility tool.
Draining wetlands can harm water quality and wildlife habitat. Millions of acres of wetlands known as "potholes" remain in the Midwest, often on farms. The U.S. Department of Agriculture can withhold benefits from farmers who violate wetlands conservation rules.
Small communities may lack the resources needed to maintain or replace drinking water systems. New or nonconventional approaches have the potential to do a better, more cost-effective job of providing drinking water.
Nationwide, irrigation consumed 20-30 trillion gallons of water in 2015. Most irrigation is in the West, where water is relatively scarce and precipitation low.
The 3 main irrigation technologies—gravity, sprinkler, and micro—can all be modified to be more efficient and save water.
Researchers often use animals to study disease, test product safety, experiment, or teach. Some uses cause animals pain or distress. Federal agencies require researchers to consider alternatives to animal use, such as computer modeling or working with cell cultures.
Millions of Americans are unsure about where their next meal will come from. Meanwhile, about 40% of the U.S. food supply goes uneaten. This issue requires action across the food supply chain and collaboration among federal and state agencies, businesses, communities, and more.
Shellfish aquaculture projects—the breeding, rearing, and harvesting of oysters, clams, and mussels—may require authorization from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Among other things, the Corps examines compliance with navigation and environmental laws.
The Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management sell millions of dollars of timber from federal forests each year. Federal law bans buyers from exporting unprocessed timber from western federal lands, along with related practices. Some agency policies to implement the ban are outdated or unclear.
Agricultural production can have harmful effects on natural resources, such as when animal waste runs off into waterways. Conservation practices like installing structures to store animal waste can help mitigate these effects.
What GAO Found The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) conducts monitoring, research and outreach, and conservation that help protect bees, but limitations in those efforts hamper the department's ability to protect bee health.