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STATEMENT OF ASA M. BENNETT, WASHINGTON, GA. Mr. BENNETT. I am Asa M. Bennett, Washington, Ga. I am a livestock farmer and you raised the question of what to do with these diverted acres on cattle. This would affect some and in periods of surplus I suggest public domain be withdrawn from production of cattle. As you well know, the public lands of the West produce a good deal of beef, and in periods of surplus, if a policy was set up to withdraw this public domain from production, it would affect the amount of cattle produced. The CHAIRMAN.
You mean do not let anybody rent it? Mr. BENNETT. That is correct. Withdraw it from use. I know you would run into opposition in the West.
The CHAIRMAN. The great trouble is that in one State -I think it is Arizona, the Government owns almost 90 percent of the land. What would you do with the farmers there? Not let them use that land at all?
Mr. BENNETT. I realize you would run into a problem there but still you might have to do it gradually, but you could draw out; and when a lease ran out you could not renew or let someone else have it. That is during periods of overproduction or when we don't need it.
When we need it—but as a cattle producer on my own private lands I don't think it is fair competition for that land to be used for the reason that it is used at a very cheap rate of what it is actually worth.
The Senator here from Kansas brought up the only reason that I think we, as farmers, have a right to come to Congress and ask for relief, and that is the fact that we were placed ceilings during the period when we could have reaped big benefits and when the Congress and people of the country received those benefits. We need some assistance in this adjustment period.
You say you need a solution to the problem. The only solution you are going to get is to subsidize agriculture during this period here just like you subsidized industry in their transition period. It will cost money. It also cost money to keep the gold up at Fort Knox. We guard it and we spend money to guard it. It will cost money to store it there; it will also cost money to store cotton, but I submit that cotton in a warehouse is just as much an asset as gold in Kentucky. And it is doing the economy of this country just as much good as that gold buried up there that we are protecting. The only use for it will be in the future; we are not using it now.
Although Stephen Pace suggested 5 million set-aside bales, in the case of cotton only, I don't see why you couldn't double it. If past history proves true it would be a good investment because that cotton will go up in price in future years and it would bring the Government a profit.
The Senator from Kansas knows more about wheat than I do. He says you can't keep wheat. I had the idea you could because I read where they found some wheat in the Pyramids that was still good. Two thousand years is long enough to keep it for me.
The CHAIRMAN. Somebody suggested we take our excess wheat and bury it up in the Article Circle in the ice. That might be a good idea, but I would hate to have to pay the freight there and back and dig the hole.
Mr. BENNETT. If we got hungry we would be glad to pay it. But cotton can be kept. Corn couldn't be kept long. We could keep these surpluses over a period and gradually work them back in. We can smooth out these ups and downs. We have proven that. Your support under cotton, today's paper shows cotton went up in the face of this last estimate and I don't think anybody would argue if you didn't have a fixed support cotton would be going up in increased production. Fixed supports do work and they do maintain a floor that a farmer can live under.
The reason we ask for 90 percent is because we are reasonable and that gives a 10 percent leeway to pay for the storage of this stuff, and there is no reason for the Government to take the loss on this stuff. I realize we are going to have to subsidize some movement into export but cotton can be kept until the time when it will be needed and a time when it will be profitable to sell. So the Government doesn't have to take a loss on that cotton. They will have to store it and you will have expense storing it, but you have got expense in keeping that gold there, too.
On perishable crops which you produce, livestock, my main commodity, you cannot store that. The only practical way to move that stuff is to move it into production with some kind of subsidy program. Your present subsidy under hogs is the right approach. It just isn't adequate to do the job. We should subsidize the movement of a temporary surplus like that into consumption and get rid of it like we did with butter and it will work to dispose of perishables in that manner. It will cost some money, but the farmers are entitled to it if we want a stable agriculture.
I submit it will cost more in the long run not to do it because you can no more maintain the economy of this country on the level we are and pull down agriculture. We cannot sell anything in quantity. There are a few items we can manufacture and sell in world commerce, but I agree with the Senator that we cannot grow stuff and sell it at world prices with our high standard of labor and living in this country. So when we go to trade in foreign affairs we must step down to be able ot sell it. Therefore, if we have tariffs to raise the level in this country we have to have some way of stepping it down to move it out; and a surplus-disposal program is the only way to solve this problem.
There is one other thing and that is the control of money in this country. As you know, the Federal Reserve controls quantity and credit of the country. When you run the price of money up you run the price of goods down. We have a policy going on right immediately now of running the price of money up. Interest rates have doubled in the last 12 months.
The CHAIRMAN. Doubled ?
Mr. BENNETT. Prime interest rates have doubled in the last 12 months. The Government is paying the highest rate on 90-day bills they ever paid.
The CHAIRMAN. What the Government borrows?
Mr. BENNETT. Yes, and prime interest rates to business, also. It is the policy of the present Federal Reserve Board, which controls that. Now the supply of money and supply of goods must balance. If you decrease supply of money and increase the supply of goods you necessarily lower prices. Therefore, as we increase production in this
country we need a money policy that will increase as that production increases. Otherwise you are bound to run into disaster periods like we have.
I have a statement: It is a poor government that can't print money faster than a farmer can raise cows. You can increase money faster than you can increase goods. That is what war does, increases money supply in relation to the goods. We do need a money policy that will increase money supply in line with goods; otherwise I don't care what you do, you will reduce your acres completely out of reason to get it down to where it can be sold.
Thank you very much.
I wish the witnesses hereafter would confine their testimony to something new, not just stating the problem. We are looking for a prescription. The doctor knows the trouble. You write a prescription.
TESTIMONY OF H. YOUNG TILLMAN, VALDOSTA, GA. Mr. TILLMAN. I am H. Young Tillman. I am a farmer, a general farmer of some 36 years.
Since the national position of agriculture has been so capably presented at this hearing I will not attempt to dwell upon that or any other phase of agriculture that has been covered here except to endorse some of the things that have been said. I would like to present at this time the problem of a small farmer. I would also like to define, if I may, what in my opinion is a small farmer.
I am inclined to believe that since agriculture has developed into a mechanization that large farmers are those farmers that acquire sufficient capital to operate on a large-scale mechanized unit and acquire their capital usually outside of agricultural endeavors. A small farmer, in my opinion, is a farmer that derives all of his source of income from the land alone, regardless of the size of his operation. That is true in Georgia; that might not be true in Kansas. But in the State of Georgia and in my county, the farmers that have been
farmers in that county have become small farmers in recent years.
I have this much evidence to prove what I am saying. My base for the production of tobacco was 85 acres at the beginning of the program, the first and second program we have been through you might say.
The CHAIRMAN. When was that? In 1937 ?
Mr. TILLMAN. If you don't mind I would just like to complete my statement to this extent
The CHAIRMAN. Go ahead.
your 85 ?
Mr. TILLMAN. That my present allotment is 23 acres. I would like to say my base on cotton was 56 acres
The CHAIRMAN. Before going to cotton, answer me this if you care to: Can you produce as much tobacco on your 23 acres as you did on
Mr. TILLMAN. No, sir.
Mr. TILLMAN. Even on the basis of 800 pounds or 1,000 pounds per acre, you would have in the neighborhood of 80,000 pounds of tobacco on 85 acres. We have an exceptionally good crop if we reach 2,000 pounds of tobacco, and the average is far below that in the State. I believe it is around 500 this year.
The CHAIRMAN. What was the average per acre when the program started ?
Mr. TILLMAN. About 800 pounds.
The CHAIRMAN. That is what I wanted to get into the record. Proceed.
Mr. TILLMAN. That is the State average.
Mr. TILLMAN. Now the acreage on tobacco relative to the small farmer has been reduced and cut to where the allotment on the farms is not sufficient to take care of your present overhead and bear their part of the burden in diversified agriculture.
The CHAIRMAN. Would it be your idea to increase the acreage of the smaller farmer
Mr. TILLMAN. I would like to get around to that in a minute.
Mr. TillMAN. The other basic commodities that we grow, cotton, peanuts, and so forth, have been reduced also on these farms. As a matter of fact, my last production of cotton was, I believe, in 1943 when we had an open year on cotton of 45 bales. Today my allotment on that same farm is 3 acres. My farm consists of 1,500 acres, approximately 1,000 acres of it is clear land, around 700 acres is either improved pastures or under cultivation at this time. We had an allotment on peanuts
The CHAIRMAN. Let us go back to cotton. How many acres did you have? Just answer the question, please. Let us not go to peanuts. How did you come to lose your acreage down to 3 acres? Mr. TILLMAN. 'We did not grow
The CHAIRMAN. Wait a minute. I want you to tell the committee how it was that your acreage was reduced to 3 acres—from what?
Mr. TILLMAN. From 56.
The CHAIRMAN. You must have planted something else in the meantime.
Mr. TILLMAN. No, sir. We discontinued production of cotton during the period of time with the exception of 1943 that there was no quotas declared, because we were not able to profitably produce that cotton.
The CHAIRMAN. So you quit cotton?
Mr. TILLMAN. We lost it due to the fact that the Department of Agriculture declared those the base years and ruled out the history and performance of that farm.
The CHAIRMAN. You do not think it is right?
The CHAIRMAN. If you quit growing cotton to grow something else you lose your base. That is what happened. That happened to a lot of people who are now
Mr. TILLMAN. If that policy is right I will also lose my farm as well as my allotments on that farm in the near future, including tobacco.
Senator SCHOEPPEL. I want to say this, and I appreciate your situation. The western part of my State is a semiarid or upland area where we produce wheat. And in many places the only other crop we can produce there with any degree of return year in and year out is the grain sorghums.
The State agricultural colleges of our area and other areas have experimented and the farmers have, as well, on what is known as summer fallowing practices wherein we leave the lands lie completely idle of crops and cultivate it 1 year and put in the next year.
Now when this allocated acreage program came along there were thousands of farmers in western sections of the country who were following the best agricultural college programs, namely summer fallowing their acreage; leaving half of it idle, building up the moisture content, and seeding the other half every other year. The people who continuously cropped their land or put all their acreage in when this acreage allotment hit had a better history by far than those who followed good agricultural summer fallowing practices and had voluntarily cut their seeded land acreage in half for production purposes.
I sympathize with you a bit more than ordinary in your situation. Mr. TILLMAN. Thank you, Senator.
May I proceed, Mr. Chairman, by saying that the peanut acreage in our county was—our county was declared a border county insofar as production of peanuts was concerned and due to that fact we have lost most of the peanut acreage in that country. It has gone into counties that were exceeding us in production and declared peanut counties.
Now I am not trying to bring this to you just for my personal benefit. I realize that the small farmer has felt the pressure of the farm program as administered in the past. I realize that you may pass a law in the future, a new program, and turn that over to someone to administer and if, as that program is carried out, the intents of the