Water Subsidies:

Views on Proposed Reclamation Reform Legislation

T-RCED-91-90: Published: Sep 12, 1991. Publicly Released: Sep 12, 1991.

Additional Materials:

Contact:

James Duffus, III
(202) 512-7756
contact@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

GAO discussed four legislative proposals to amend the Reclamation Reform Act of 1982, which permits multiple landholdings to continue to be operated collectively as one large farm while individually qualifying for federally subsidized water. GAO noted that: (1) if the farm operations in the five case studies remain constant, each of the proposals could limit federally subsidized water to some or all of the operations; (2) three of the five large farm operations in the case studies could continue to receive subsidized water on land in excess of the 960-acre limit, under the House bill; (3) under the Senate bill, four of the five large farm operations would be able to continue to receive subsidized water on more than 960 acres; (4) three of the large farm operations could continue to receive subsidized water on land in excess of the 960-acre limit under the Bureau of Reclamation's draft bill; and (5) the Subcommittee on Water, Power, and Off-Shore Energy Resources's draft bill could stop the flow of federally subsidized water to more than 960 acres in all five of the case studies. GAO believes that since farmers have ample financial incentive to reorganize their operations in response to any new reclamation legislation enacted, some farmers are likely to reorganize again to be eligible to receive additional federally subsidized water.

Matters for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Congressional committees in the current Congress do not currently have plans to introduce legislation to amend reclamation law and incorporate the recommendations. The recommendation has been open for over 3 years.

    Matter: Any amending legislation enacted by Congress should be as clear as possible in limiting the acreage on which a farm or farm operation is eligible to receive federally subsidized water.

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Congressional committees in the current Congress do not currently have plans to introduce legislation to amend reclamation law and incorporate the recommendations. The recommendation has been open for over 3 years.

    Matter: The amending legislation should include a clear statement of purpose to provide the Bureau guidance in implementing the new law. Such a statement might say that the purpose of the legislation is to stop the flow of federally subsidized water to owned or leased land over a maximum of 960 acres, or whatever limit may be established, and that multiple landholdings being operated collectively as one large farm cannot, in any event, receive subsidized water on more than the established acreage limit.

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Congressional committees in the current Congress do not currently have plans to introduce legislation to amend reclamation law and incorporate the recommendations. The recommendation has been open for over 3 years.

    Matter: Any factors or indicators explicitly excluded from consideration in determining the existence of a farm or farm operation should be clearly defined. Further, if certain factors are to be excluded from consideration in determining the existence of a farm or farm operation, the exclusion should only apply to consideration of the factors individually and not to their consideration in conjunction with other factors.

 

Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Sep 6, 2016

Aug 24, 2016

May 26, 2016

Apr 18, 2016

Mar 24, 2016

Mar 10, 2016

Feb 4, 2016

Sep 29, 2015

Mar 25, 2015

Feb 19, 2015

Looking for more? Browse all our products here