« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
Now, in these remarks, I have tried to give you my impression of the nature and proportions of the problem that confronts us. It is a national problem, and it is a local problem right here in Georgia,
We need a change of philosophy in agriculture.
It must be a philosophy that represents the aspirations, yes, the prayers of our farm people everywhere. A farm program must aspire to, it must strive for, a fair share of the Nation's income an equality of economic opportunityfor the farmers and their families who feed this Nation. With this kind of philosophy in mind, I suggest the following:
1. Restoration of 90 percent of parity price supports for the basic crops, thereby heading off the further price catastrophe that threatens millions of farmers in 1956 under the sliding-scale supports.
2. Creation of a national soil fertility reserve, by direct conservation payments to farmers, to hold out of competitive commercial production and to build the fertility of the millions of acres of land now diverted from the basic crops under the production adjustment program.
3. A broad expansion of the existing program of soil conversation, with special emphasis on reforestation,
4. A stepped-up program for distribution of our Government-held surpluses to needy people in our own country, through revival of the stamp plan or some other more effective system. Our program for foreign sales and gifts to the needy peoples abroad also should be intensified.
5. A two-price or domestic-parity program for wheat, assuring growers 100 percent of parity for that amount of wheat consumed as human food in the United States, with the remainder competing in the world markets at world prices.
6. A 90-percent price-support program for the dairy industry, when milk producers work out some means of adjusting their production to market requirements.
7. An earnest effort by everybody concerned in agriculture to bring harmony among the producers of various commodities, and among the farmers in different regions, for an open-minded, unison determination to work out
our problems. Mr. Chairman, I think the merits of these seven points are obvious. We know that the sliding-scale program has not brought more freedom to farmers, has increased rather than decreased our surpluses; and only has lowered the income of our farmers.
As for points 2 and 3, I know that if my land is not better when I leave it than when I got it, then I have placed a liability on those who succeed me.
While we have a national debt of some $250 billion for the next generations, it is sensible that we try to balance off some of this by bequeathing them rich fields and broad forests by which these next generations may feed, clothes, and house themselves.
I think there is no disagreement on point 4, for the distribution of our surpluses at home and abroad. I support point 5 because Representative Clifford R. Hope of Kansas, and the wheatgrowers, want this, and if they get this program and prove its feasibility I'm hopeful that it may provide some answers for cotton and some of our other exportable crops.
As for point we are aware that some people in America have been rather successful in prejudicing dairy farmers against producers of the basic crops, especially against the producers of feed grains. I think that we can assure the dairymen of all the States that when they come forward with a price support and production adjustment program on which they themselves agree, they will have the backing in Congress of the Members from all the States producing the basic crops. I shall not discuss point 7. You are all aware of the deliberate effort to divide our farmers, and you know the urgency of bringing us all together again in one objective and one effort.
Now, Mr. Chairman, I have taken up too much of your time, so I want to sum up quickly by telling this committee how I feel, and how the people I represent feel :
We cannot let the history of the 1920's repeat itself. We cannot accept poverty as normal in agriculture. We cannot sit still and permit agriculture to deteriorate and again drag down the whole economy of the Nation.
I thank you. The CHAIRMAN. The first witness on the agenda this morning is Mr. H. L. Wingate. Will you step forward, Mr. Wingate?
Mr. Wingate, will you give your name in full for the record and your occupation, please!
STATEMENT OF H. L. WINGATE, PRESIDENT, GEORGIA FARM
BUREAU FEDERATION, MACON, GA.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you have a prepared statement ?
The CHAIRMAN. Proceed. I hope you have the solution to our problem.
Mr. WINGATE. Senator, I certainly hope so, too. It is a tremendous problem and I want to take this opportunity to thank the committee for coming to the State of Georgia. I certainly want to thank Senator George, our very able and distinguished Senator, for inviting
The CHAIRMAN. We did not need much coaxing:
Mr. WINGATE. I am delighted to hear that, Senator. From the very fine remarks that were
made last night, Senator, I think we are all struggling to try to solve a problem, and I certainly agree with you that there is not any politics, and certainly not any so far as I am concerned on it, and I hope there is not any with any others because we are faced with a problem that is most serious and something must be done about it.
I am delighted to see our Georgia delegation, some of them, here this morning. I wish they were all here. I understand that Congressman Forrester could not be here. He is sick in bed and we are sorry to hear this because he was very anxious to be here I know.
Gentlemen, I know we all agree to this one fact: That the workingman can buy today more food and fiber with 1 hour's work in this country than they can anywhere in the world. I think we all agree on that and I think that is a statement that we should lay out here to point out the fact that when we talk about farmers being in bad shape, with the low prices, I want to say that even during the war, when prices were high and above parity, that the laboring man could still buy more food and fiber with an hour's work then than they could anywhere else.
I certainly think that agriculture is No. 1 in the basics of our economy. In other words, it comes ahead of everything. We must have food and we must have fiber and there never has been a time in the history of this country when it was in a prosperous economic condition very long when the farmers were not receiving a pretty fair price for their commodities. In other words, when farmers' prices are down the economy of the Nation follows it.
Now, gentlemen, we are in a price squeeze. We have heard a lot about that and I will not try to dwell on that. I will say that these Department of Agriculture figures that the cost of production of farm commodities in this Nation has gone up 29.9 percent since 1947. The net income to the farmer has gone down 30.08 percent. Those figures may not sound too good and they are not, but I would like for us to
get it down to actual figures that we know a little more about and then I cannot agree with that, either, because when we talk about billions of dollars, I do not know a thing in the world about a billion; I cannot imagine what a billion dollars is.
A fellow told me one day, and I thought he was joking, that if a man was 21 years old on the first day of January in the year 1, and started operating a business and lost $1,000 every day since he had been in business, and you would go to him this morning and tell him "Listen, I understand business has been a little rough and you lost $1,000 every day since January 1, the year 1."
He said "Well, that is true.”
Well he said the fellow told him "If it does not get any worse than it is I will be here 750 more years," and he felt that if it did not get better he would retire on the few millions of dollars left.
That sounds unreasonable. A man would be over 2,700 years old spending $1,000 every day, to spend $1 billion. I just cannot imagine that. But our net income is off approximately $6 billion a year,
the farmers'. That is 30 percent. It is costing us approximately $7 billion a year more to operate.
Gentlemen, that is a price squeeze that we are in. And I certainly think we are all in agreement that the farmers are in a real price squeeze.
The CHAIRMAN. You are stating the problem. What we would like to have is a solution. You know we have all the statistics to indicate what the problem is and what we have done.
Mr. WINGATE. We all know, Senator, that the costs of everything are up and the big problem is surpluses. That is the big problem we are faced with today and how to work that out.
In the first place, our farmers have done a grand job, Senator, working out and furnishing food and fiber for wartime. We were never awarded any “E's” or anything, but have done a great job. and I want to say that the surpluses we have had going into the wars have been a blessing. But wars cause our expanded farm program and cause a surplus situation. I certainly won't go into that because we know we have the surpluses here.
But, gentlemen, I would like to state just as positively as I can, that there are so many people have said the 90-percent programthat is part of my program-has caused the expansion of the farm program and that is not so. It was the wars that caused it.
Now industry expanded during the war and after the war was over the War Production Board sold over $42 billion worth of surplus war equipment for less than $7 billion. They had to go ahead producing these things; they asked us to go ahead producing food and fiber. We all wound up with a surplus, but those things were taken off the hands of industry. Contractors and laborers got theirs. We asked them, as you know, to remove some of our surpluses and they said, “We are sorry, we are going to have to cut prices, cut acreage, and so on.
The solution, Senator, that I have and that I am recommending this morning is that we continue our 90-percent support program, not the flexible price-support program. The flexible price-support program has us headed downward today and we are going further and
further down with that price program and there is no other way out under that program.
You just can't go up on it. There is only one way you could go up and that is to get into disastrous conditions; and if you didn't have the price-support program it would go up anyhow. It is a question of how low you are going to set your guaranty with the surpluses we have. That means the price today. In other words, Senator, I mean that if we go down to 50 percent of parity, guaranty, corn would go there, cotton would go there, wheat would go there, just as sure as we are sitting here. So I say definitely that flexible price supports are not the answer.
I am going to say right here that I don't think 90 percent is the whole answer. I have another recommendation to make there, but first, let me say, Senator, about the surpluses that we have before I leave them.
We had surpluses in the thirties, we have had surpluses before, in all wars. We have had them wiped out and always would get back into trouble before we could get our farm program contracted. There is what we are in trouble on. Industry contracted. The Government cleared all things out of their way, everything out of their way, and they were left with a clear road to travel. As I stated, we were left with our surpluses.
Now there is no way that the farmers, with the surpluses they have on hand today, can get out of it except to take some acres out of production, just like industry takes-well, let me say the steel people. They vary every week nearly a little in their productive capacity. They don't turn out 100 percent every time. But a year and a half ago they were down to 65 percent capacity. A year ago last week they were down to 76 percent. We can only attempt this once a year and that is something that we are going to have to do.
That brings me up to this soil bank program.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Wingate, in the meantime have you anything to offer to us as to how to get rid of these surpluses that we have now. That, to me, is one of the most vexing problems.
As you know, this year we produced on 3 million acres less than last year, i million more bales of cotton.
Mr. WINGATE. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. And 90 percent price support by themselves will not do. We certainly cannot keep on increasing our surpluses and producing at that rate. Something has to take place in between. What is it in between that you suggest?
Mr. WINGATE. Let us be fair about this. We are never going to know what we are going to produce, and I hope we still break records every year. I can go back and say maybe next year we won't produce over 9 million bales of cotton. Some would argue with me on that, but in 1950 we produced less than 10 million bales on 17 million acres harvested. That is a problem; we have got to try to get rid of some of this burden, some surplus first, and then we will have to try to control to keep it in line.
Senator, I will tell you we have to sell some in foreign countries and get rid of it some way. The Government got rid of the surplus war equipment, tanks, trucks, jeeps, tractors, automobiles, everything; electronics of all kinds. They swept it out, sold over $42 billion for
less than $7 billion, a loss of $35 billion; and you haven't heard a crocodile tear yet shed over that.
I want to say this: When we lose a half billion dollars or threequarters of a billion dollars a year, they hold that before the people right in their eyes all the time. I am still not saying that solves it, but I am saying our Government has to step in through some means, subsidize or something, and move some of this cotton and stuff out of our way and get us in a position where we can produce each year what we would normally consume and export.
The CHAIRMAN. You know, when the program was announced last year it was to produce so many bales of cotton.
Mr. WINGATE. Yes.
Mr. WINGATE. The first time we ever exceeded that much in history, though.
The CHAIRMAN. I understand that, but in your soil bank fertility program that you speak of, what percentage of the acreage would you take out of production? Have you any idea? How would you handle it?
Mr. WINGATE. Well, Senator, I know you know how broad and complex this farm program is. I don't believe anybody knows any more about that and I know you know I don't have the full answer. But we have done enough work on it; I think we can sit down with you, your staff, and some of the fellows in Washington and really make some program on it.
The CHAIRMAN. We would like to have the idea now so that we can begin working right away in January. Because as chairman of this committee, if I can do it, I want to try to have a bill before the Senate and the Congress within a few weeks after we get back there if possible. That is why the whole committee has been going about the country in order to get information so that we can put our staff next week, if possible, to analyzing all this evidence and then writing into a bill methods by which we can settle this situation. We do not want to wait until late next year to do this. We want to do it early.
That is why we are here to get from you specific proposals if you
Mr. WINGATE. So far as we are concerned, I would like to say the American Farm Bureau Federation has done a lot of work on this and are willing to sit down with you tomorrow and work on it. It is not the real plan, but we are at a point where we can sit down and start formulating it.
The CHAIRMAN. You would be surprised at how the other organizations have the same plans of their own; the Grange has a plan, the Farmers' Union, and others.
Now if we take you in and leave the others out, we will never get a bill through.
Mr. WINGATE. I didn't mean that.
The CHAIRMAN. I understand. We have asked all the organizations for their plans and we hope that out of what they say, what the farmers say, that we will have enough evidence to get a spark or so to show us the way.
Mr. WINGATE. I will proceed.
Senator, let me say again I know of no way to get rid and reduce the surpluses other than to take some acreage out of production. I