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Robinson, Mrs. R. B., Littleton, N. C.-----
Upchurch, T. B., Jr., North Carolina Cotton Growers Association,
Raeford, N. C...
Vinson, Hon. Carl, Representative in Congress from the 6th Con-
gressional District of Georgia --
Wright, Charles V., Washington, Ga--
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 12, 1955
UNITED STATES SENATE,
Macon, Ga. The committee met, pursuant to notice, at 9 a. m., Hotel Dempsey, Senator Allen J. Ellender (chairman) presiding.
Present: Senators Ellender (chairman), Eastland, Young, and Schoeppel.
Also present: Senators George and Russell, and Representatives
The committee is very glad to be here in Georgia and we hope to get the answer to the farm problem from the witnesses here today. We have been on the road now for quite some time and we have heard witnesses from all over the West and Midwest and we obtained very good information and very good ideas.
I notice from this morning's paper that the administration is now working on its soil-bank plan to present to Congress. We have had several bills before Congress in respect to that plan, but it seems that no effort was made to do anything about it. This is simply a demonstration that when you get people thinking we might be able to solve this problem.
As I indicated last night, neither rigid price supports nor flexible supports will do this job. It will require much more than that. It may be that a combination of rigid supports for quality, a soil-bank plan, and a few other provisions particularly with reference to the disposition of our surpluses may do the job.
Before proceeding, I would like to state that to my left is Senator Milton Young from North Dakota, one of the ranking Republicans on this committee. To my right is Senator Eastland, also a member of the committee. I need not introduce my good friend, Dick Russell, here, a stalwart in the Senate, a great friend to agriculture and a great Senator.
I do not suppose your good Congressman, Mr. Vinson, needs any introduction. He has been a Member of the Congress for many, many years; I would not say how many but judging from his looks it has not been too many.
And to my extreme left is Congressman Landrum, and we are happy to have both of them on the stand today, and also my good friend, Dick
Are there any statements by any members of the committee? I have a letter here addressed to me from Congressman Flynt, Member of Congress from the State of Georgia, who cannot be here I will ask that this letter be placed in the record at this point
(Letter referred to follows:)
GRIFFIN, GA., October 21, 1955. Hon. ALLEN J. ELLENDER, Chairman, Committee on Agriculture and Forestry,
United States Senate, Washington, D. C. MY DEAR SENATOR ELLENDER: This will acknowledge the letter from you dated October 17, 1955, advising me of the hearings your committee will hold on the farm program, with emphasis on price supports for the basic commodities and dairy products.
Your letter and the accompanying enclosures are of special interest to us in this section, as they both have reference to one of your committee hearings which will be held at Macon, Ga., on November 12, 1955.
There are four specific proposals which I hope will be raised by persons in attendance; and if they are not so raised, I would like to raise them, now: They are:
1. A definite emphasis on a new price-support law for the basic commodities based upon 90-percent parity.
2. An improved system of marketing to provide for disposal in world markets of surplus commodities to include a safeguard in the form of import quotas. (I think the executive branch of the Government already has authority to do both of these; but if the executive branch fails to act, then it may be necessary for Congress to prod them into action.)
3. I think a reappraisal and reevaluation of the terms and conditions of farm credit are in order. Farmers in my district are in a critical financial condition, and part of this is brought about by the fact that long-term credit is too conservative and is generally on a level of 1940; whereas, short-term credit is perhaps too liberal, based on present day values and the repayment figures are excessively high to the point that they are oppressive to many reasonably good farmers.
4. Part-time farmers may have to have their cotton allotments and other acreage control crop allotments cut, but I think that a reasonable minimum acreage should be provided to all persons who are self-employed and whose sole income comes from farming. In this connection, many full-time farmers, who have no outside source of income and who operate what we call a 1-horse farm, have been cut down to 112 or 3-acre allotments; and they are faced
with starvation, bankruptcy, or both. There are, of course, other problems which have been presented to me and which I have either personally experienced or observed; and I am sure that these and a great many other matters will be included in the reports you receive at your hearings this fall.
Thank you for the privilege of submitting these ideas to you, and with kindest regards, I am, Sincerely yours,
JOHN J. FLYNT, Jr., Member of Congress. The CHAIRMAN. I believe Congressman Vinson has a statement to put in the record.
Representative VINSON. Yes; I wish to file a statement but I will not take up the time.
The CHAIRMAN. The statement will be put in the record at this point.
(Statement filed by the Hon. Carl Vinson, Representative in Congress from the 6th Congressional District of Georgia.)
Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry, welcome to the great State of Georgia and to the congressional district which I have the honor of serving.
I personally am proud to see you here, for I feel deeply that only by bringing the Government to the people as you are doing by having your hearings over the Nation, to hear directly what our farmers have to say, only by such a fundamentally democratic process, will we ever remedy the agriculture problem.
Only in this way will we be able to improve our farm program, from the grassroots up; and only thus can we avoid the catastrophe of another depression in the fields and farmsteads of America.
All of you know that my major assignment in the Congress of the United States is with the defense of the Nation. But, being a farmer myself, and representing one of the greatest agricultural areas of the State of Georgia, I have a deep and abiding interest in the welfare of our farmers and their families.
Therefore, in welcoming you here among my home people, permit me to speak briefly to emphasize the plight of agriculture of this section, and humbly to suggest some remedies.
The most urgent, the most pressing concern of our Nation's domestic affairs today is the growing distress among our farm people who are caught in a cruel cost-price squeeze at the very time that every other major segment of our economy is booming as never before.
In your long journeys you have seen it. Hard times are again creeping onto our farms. Obvious to all of us is the frightening parallel to what happened to agriculture in the years immediately ahead of the great depression of the 1930's. The situation is a menace to the welfare of the Nation itself. Look at what is happening: The average of farm prices is down 26 percent since February 1951.
Farm operating costs remain near their record high. In fact the October report showed they again are on the increase.
Net farm income in 1954 was 31 percent below 1947 and 10 percent below 1953. The downward slide continues unchecked, with another 5- to 10-percent drop indicated in 1955.
The parity ratio in October was at 82 percent, down from 87 percent in October of last year, and at the lowest point since depression days. Farm dept is increasing. The value of agricultural assets has declined over $10 billion. Farmers purchasing power, in terms of 1935–39 dollars, is the lowest since 1940. Hog prices have dropped 25 percent since October of 1952, and now are at the lowest since 1942. Cattle prices are down 33 percent since 1952.
We in the South and Georgia are alarmed to hear that, unless Congress acts, the support price on cotton in 1956 may drop from 90 percent of parity down to 80 percent.
What does all this mean?
We have only the past to guide us. And in looking back we see danger signals flying.
There are many of us here who can remember the late 1920's when agriculture went into a price tailspin. Our farmers called for help. But the rest of the economy—then as today-was running at boom proportions. The farmers' cries scarcely were heard.
Inevitably, the ruin of agriculture began to clap like thunder over the Nation. Our whole economy tumbled into the great depression.
It was only then that this country came-belatedly—to a realization of the importance of the prosperity of agriculture to the strength and health of the whole economy. It took a near fatal catastrophe to bring this to pass.
That was when our farm program was born, 22 years ago.
You know that the income of agriculture, in this program and with the enlarged markets of the war and postwar eras, multiplied 6, 7, or 8 times. You know that the cash receipts of all farmers were only $4,735 million in 1932, but had risen to $32,693 million in 1952. Look at what happened in Georgia during those years. Georgia farmers took in from all marketings in 1932 only $68,546,000. In 1952 Georgia farmers received $649,199,000.
You know the great market that better farm income has created throughout the country, for the sale of things that are produced in the towns throughout the country, for the sale of things that are produced in the towns and cities.
You know that this has made jobs and has kept factory wheels turning. You know that rural people have been able to buy the conveniences and comforts hitherto available only to homes in the cities and towns.
You know that farmers have been financially able to mechanize their farms and apply the new sciences and more and improved plant food, to bring the blessings of abundance at low cost to their country. You know how farmers with the means to do it, have devoted their resources and energies to the restoration and conservation of our most precious resource--the soil.
In these years, since the farm program came into being, the output per farmer has increased by more than 50 percent. And the farmers' customers in the cities are getting more and better food today for a smaller part of their earnings than at any previous period in history.