1992 Scorecard Vote
For decades, livestock operators have paid a fee far below fair market value for grazing cattle on public lands in the West. Well-documented flaws in the grazing fee formula cause this year's fee to be just $1.92 per animal unit month (AUM), about the same as it was in 1979. In contrast, the current average rate charged for grazing on western private land is $9.66 per AUM. A report recently issued by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the US Forest Service shows that in 1990, grazing fee receipts were at least $52 million short of meeting the costs of their grazing programs.
Overgrazing severely impacts the environment by damaging soils, degrading habitat for wildlife, and ruining streams and riparian areas that are critical for fish and biological diversity. The damage is extensive; for example, only about one-third of BLM's extensive rangelands are in satisfactory condition, according to the agency's data. Also, a report issued last June by the General Accounting Office shows that approximately 75% of the AUMs on BLM land are controlled by fewer than 10% of the grazing permittees. Taxpayers essentially are subsidizing large corporations for grazing that often results in significant environmental damage.
The House Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations bill for FY 93 included a provision to: (a) establish a new formula to gradually increase the fee over several years (the new formula is a compromise that will result in an annual fee higher than at present, but still substantially lower than market value); (b) broaden the use of fee receipts to help cover all costs of the BLM and Forest Service grazing programs and to help restore the tens of millions of acres of rangelands and thousands of miles of streams and riparian areas damaged by decades of over-grazing; and (c) abolish BLM's single-use grazing advisory boards, as previously directed by Congress, and return those activities to BLM's multiple-use advisory boards.
Representative Charles Stenholm (D, TX-17) offered an amendment to the FY 93 Interior Appropriations bill to eliminate the grazing provision. The Stenholm amendment was rejected 164-245 on July 22, 1992. NO is the pro-environment vote.