1990 Scorecard Vote
For years conservationists have urged Congress to address a basic inconsistency in agricultural policy that has resulted in increased costs to the nation's farm programs administered by the Department of Agriculture (DOA) and additional costs from environmentally damaging water developments of the Department of the Interior's (DOI) Bureau of Reclamation.
The farm programs for crops such as cotton, rice, corn, and wheat, that are chronically in "surplus", require the DOA to pay farmers both to prop up prices and to reduce surplus crop acreage in order to keep farmers in business and to help bring supplies into balance with demand. At the same time, some 40% of acreage receiving highly subsidized Bureau of Reclamation water in the West is used to grow these same surplus crops, swelling the surpluses and further depressing weak market prices. These "double subsidies" work at cross purposes, costing taxpayers hundreds of millions each year.
On the same omnibus reclamation bill that included the Miller reform amendment, Rep. Sam Gejdenson (D-CT) offered an amendment to require "full cost" for reclamation-delivered water used to grow surplus crops. The amendment would eliminate much of the federal water subsidy for production of surplus crops as irrigation water contracts come up for renewal over the next couple of decades. Farmers could then either pay more for the water (increasing incentives for conservation and improving water use efficiency) or grow other crops not in surplus. The House agreed to the amendment by a strong vote of 338-55 on June 14. Yes is the pro-environment vote.