By rewarding farmers and ranchers who take steps to help the environment, voluntary farm conservation programs can have a significant impact on agricultural practices. But since the passage of the 2002 farm bill, Congress has cut more than $3 billion from these programs. As a result, three out of four farmers today are rejected when they seek assistance in restoring wetlands, enhancing air or water quality, or improving
That downward funding trend continued in 2005 with S. 1932, the Senate’s budget reconciliation bill, which proposed slashing farm conservation programs by more than $1 billion. To help restore that funding, Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Byron Dorgan (D-ND) introduced an amendment to cap farm subsidies at $250,000 a year and transfer the savings to conservation programs. Senate Amendment
2359 would also have closed loopholes that allow some farms to reap millions of dollars a year in subsidies.
Opponents raised a point of order against the amendment, arguing that it was not appropriate for a budget reconciliation bill. On November 3, 2005, Grassley moved to overturn the point of order. The Senate rejected his motion by a 46-53 vote (Senate roll call vote 290). YES is the pro-environment vote.