Understanding Statistics

The Estimating Programs - Chemical Use

In 1989, NASS began surveying the use of pesticides and commercial fertilizers on farms in support of the President's Water Quality Initiative and USDA's Food Safety Initiative. Statistics on field crops are published each year, while information on either fruits or vegetables is released in alternate years.

Before the program was instituted, statistically reliable and readily available information on the amount and types of chemicals used in agriculture was quite limited. Consequently, neither USDA nor other concerned parties could respond adequately to questions of agricultural chemical use and its possible effects on food safety and water quality.

The chemical use database is proving an invaluable tool to Federal agencies in assessing the benefits and risks of pesticide use, and to State agencies in determining how well actual agricultural practices accord with environmental quality standards. Moreover, the database is essential to the sound evaluation of existing and proposed programs and policies that could affect food production, consumer prices, and farm income.

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Last Modified: 05/04/2018