Farm bills

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 1996:

A joint House/Senate committee
was working to reconcile differences in
their respective editions of the new Farm
Bill as ANIMAL PEOPLE went to press.
Of perhaps most importance to animal protection,
the final version is likely to phase
out all dairy subsidies by 2000, which may
accelerate the demise of the small dairy
farm––and the reduction of the national
dairy herd, as genetically engineered
“supercows” take over from those of simple
selective breeding. This in turn would
reduce the number of calves available to the
veal industry, already declining for 50
years. Controversial parallel actions
include a Farm Bill rider introduced by
Senator Hank Brown (R-Colorado), which
would eliminate Forest Service authority
over stream flow below either public or private
lands, and S. 1459, the “Public
Rangelands Management Act” introduced
by Senator Pete Domenici (R-Utah), to
make grazing the primary purpose of leased
public lands. The latter was approved by
the Senate, 51-47, and is expected to clear
the House, but may be vetoed by President
Bill Clinton because it would end the longstanding
doctrine of multiple use.

Implications include more predator control,
less protection of endangered species habitat,
less access by hunters and hikers, and
mixed but probably mostly negative results
for wildlife. The Domenici bill would also
increase grazing fees by 30%. Federal grazing
fees have fallen 31% in the past year,
responding to a 35% drop in western beef
prices. “The federal government pays more
to administer the grazing program than it
receives in fees from ranchers,” the
Washington Post noted.
Paralleling the U.S. momentum,
Canadian finance minister Paul Martin on
March 8 announced a phase-out of
Canadian subsidies to the dairy industry, to
be totally eliminated by 2001.

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