1991 Scorecard Vote
For decades, our tax dollars have subsidized ranchers in 16 western states. The federal government charges less than market rates for grazing herds on nearly 270 million acres of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service public lands. In 1991, those federal agencies charged $1.97 per animal unit month (AUM), while the market value of private land is $9.22 per AUM. The federal fee is determined annually by a formula established in 1978 under the Public Rangelands Improvement Act. Although this formula was set to expire in 1986, its use was indefinitely extended through an Executive Order.
Representative Michael Synar (D OK-2) introduced an amendment to the Interior Appropriations for FY 1992 to revise the formula which sets the grazing fee closer to the fair market rate for ranching use of these lands. Over a four-year period, the amendment would raise the livestock grazing fee from $1.97 to $8.70 per AUM, or to fair market value as determined by the new formula, whichever is higher, by 1995. The Synar Amendment would also direct the BLM and the U.S. Forest Service to broadened the use of grazing fee receipts to restore streams and wildlife habitat damaged by overgrazing, and would abolish the BLM's grazing advisory boards. The boards, which were supposed to have been eliminated in 1986, largely determine the use of grazing fee receipts, influence local policy on public lands, and consist almost entirely of ranchers.
The Synar Amendment was adopted 232-192 on June 25, 1991. YES is the pro-environment vote. This provision was later dropped from the bill during the conference committee negotiations.