1991 Scorecard Vote
For decades, our tax dollars have subsidized ranchers in 16 western states; the federal government charges below-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) -- the amount of forage which one cow and one calf consume per month -- while the current value is estimated to exceed $9.00 per AUM. The federal fee is determined annually by a formula established in 1978 under the Public Rangelands Improvement Act. Although this formula was statutorily set to expire in 1986, its use was extended indefinitely by Executive Order.
The House of Representatives had already voted to adopt a new formula to increase grazing fees to fair market value by 1995. In an effort to reach a compromise, Senators James Jeffords (R-VT) and Howard Metzenbaum (D-OH) introduced an amendment to the Interior Appropriations for FY 1992 to revise the formula. The Jeffords-Metzenbaum Amendment would result in an increase in the grazing fee to $5.13 per AUM by 1995, thus increasing the grazing fees by no more than 33% per year.
The Jeffords-Metzenbaum Amendment would also broadened the use of grazing fee receipts for such activities as the restoration of wildlife and fish habitat and other resources damaged by overgrazing. The amendment would abolish the BLM's grazing advisory boards, which largely determine the use of grazing fee receipts, thereby influencing policy on public lands. These advisory boards consist almost entirely of ranchers. Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM) moved to table (kill) the amendment.
The Domenici motion to table the Jeffords Amendment was accepted 60-38 on September 17, 1991. NO is the pro-environment vote. While the House had passed a similar provision, it was dropped from the bill in conference.