1985 Scorecard Vote
America is losing about 5 billion tons of topsoil a year -- more than we did in the dust-bowl of 1934. The plowing of fragile lands, particularly in the West, can ruin not only those lands, but damage adjacent unplowed land through dust and wind erosion. Pesticides washed into rivers from eroding agricultural land has also been found to be a major source of water pollution. The government has spent millions on soil conservation programs, but has also spent billions on subsidies to farmers who cultivate highly erodible land. These subsidies include price supports, farm loans, crop insurance and other farm benefits.
The 1985 House Agriculture bill contained "sodbuster" provisions to cut off federal farm benefits for farmers bringing previously uncultivated, erodible land into production. The bill also established a "conservation reserve" to pay farmers to grow trees and other soil conserving plants on erodible land, at a lower cost to the taxpayers than current farm subsidies. However, the bill did not apply these provisions to land which had been cultivated in the last 5 years, even if it was highly erodible.
This vote is on a compromise amendment offered by Reps. Glickman (D-KS) and Wolpe (D-MI), requiring conservation plans to be implemented between 1990 and 1995 on all previously cultivated, but highly erodible land. Farmers could implement such plans, put their land in the "conservation reserve," or risk loss of federal farm benefits. Amendment accepted 313-90; October 3, 1985. YES is the pro-environmental vote. (Glickman-Wolpe Amendment to H.R. 2100, FY '86 Farm Programs Reauthorization.) The Glickman-Wolpe provision was included in the final "1985 Farm Bill" that passed Congress and was signed into law by President Reagan.