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The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Moyers, please. Give your full name and your occupation.
STATEMENT OF PRESTON MOYERS, BROADWAY, VA. Mr. MOYERS. I am Preston Moyers, a poultryman from Broadway, Va. At present I am chairman of the American Farm Bureau Federation poultry advisory committee, immediate past president and present director, Virginia State Poultry Federation, vice president of the Southeastern Poultry and Egg Association for the State of Virginia, and director of the National Turkey Federation.
Having been closely associated with producers organizations for the past several years and been in close contact with peoples of the southeast, I feel that I can very ably speak for the poultrymen in this section who are here today.
As you know, the poultry industry has repeatedly declined to ask for price supports, has preferred to take its own chances in a free economy. Although prices on many occasions have dropped below cost of production and many poultrymen have suffered heavy financial losses, we have been able to come back strong after each low-price period by promoting increased consumer demand for our product and by adjusting production of the demand.
While some producers have been forced out of the poultry price business under this system the better growers have survived and greater and greater efficiencies of production has resulted. This is particularly true of the broiler industry and almost equally true of the turkey industry.
For example, out-of-pocket costs of production of a pound of broiler meat some 10 years ago was approximately 30 cents, and required approximately 41/2 pounds of feed to produce a pound of meat. Today the more efficient producers are producing that pound of meat for 18 to 19 cents per pound and for 212 to 312 pounds of feed and taking on the average approximately 3 to 4 weeks less time to produce that pound of bird.
The American consumer has benefited by this competition that has produced these results and has increased her purchase of broilers, making it possible for the industry to continue growing year after year. This has occurred in spite of the fact that commercial feeds, the majority of them which are under price-support, represent 60 percent of the out-of-pocket cost of producing a pound of broiler meat. This broiler industry is an excellent example of what can be done by an agricultural commodity group when it is unfettered by Government controls, which inevitably bring accompanying price supports. The growth of this industry has been phenomenal. From 34 million birds produced in 1934 to over a billion birds produced in 1954, an increase of some 3,000 percent.
We don't believe that this growth could have been possible under a controlled economy. With this bit of information as background, I wish to reiterate the poultry industry's opposition to Government subsidies except as emergency measures, and to urge you and other members of the United States Senate to give Secretary Benson's flexible price-support program a fair trial.
Certainly the rigid 90-percent program has not proved satisfactory, but instead has resulted in ever mounting surpluses and costly Gov
ernment-purchase programs. We in the poultry industry would much prefer to see more money spent on production and marketing research which individual farmers are unable to do for themselves. Were these tools at hand to obtain better hatchability from chicken and turkey eggs, to reduce losses from death by diseases, and to do an even more efficient job of converting cereal grains into eggs, broiler and turkey meats, coupled with expanded market outlets that can be created and reached through research, we believe the prospects for healthy poultry industry in the future will be extremely good.
It is on this foundation that the poultry industry has progressed to its present level and we are confident the same approach to our problem will continue to strengthen our position in years to come.
The CHAIRMAN. Is it your view that a flexible price support on grains will give you cheaper feed?
Mr. MoYERS. I think that it should; yes, sir.
Mr. MOYERS. No. Practically all the feed for our broilers and turkevs is a commercial feed.
The CHAIRMAN. Don't you think the grower of these feeds ought to be assured at least a profit?
Mr. MoYERS. Yes; but by the same token the poultryman should be assured a profit; should he not?
The CHAIRMAN. Do you believe that the sliding scale, if you make it slide too low, that you might discourage production of feed and thereby cause your feed to go up? Wouldn't that be possible?
Mr. MoYERS. We would get rid of our surpluses if we did that.
The CHAIRMAN. I understand that, but I am talking in the long term. We are not talking about a program to get rid of the present surpluses alone, but one that will be lasting and that will not create the condition that now faces us.
Mr. MoYERs. Personally, I feel the situation we are in that we probably could not withdraw all supports at the present time but certainly I think it is a desirable goal to work toward.
The CHAIRMAN. And you would want to attain that when demand and production are in line?
Mr. MoYERS. That is right.
The CHAIRMAN. I hope we can attain that. That is the goal. Any further questions?
Thank you, sir.
STATEMENT OF JOHN H. EAST, CHURCHVILLE, VA.
Mr. East. I am John H. East. I am a livestock producer in the central part of the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Our production is cattle, beef cattle, wool, and lambs. As to the immediate situation as a livestock producer, I feel that insofar as the cattle business is concerned, that we cattlemen have taken the most painful of the adjustments which have been necessary from a wartime to a, shall I say, an uneasy peace economy.
So far as the lamb and wool business is concerned, it has had a remarkable degree of stability from the viewpoint of the producer's income throughout the years, at least that has been my experience. So
far as suggestions for the immediate future for the cattle industry I should say, and it would apply to the other, sheep, that we are getting along and I hope unless the whole economy softens that we will make this adjustment without too disastrous results.
The present program having to do with the basic crops, particularly the feed grains and conservation program, although the support program does not directly affect us, as it is proposed to operate under the act passed by the Congress in 1948, I do not feel any apprehension about its adverse effects on myself as a producer of wool, lambs, and cattle.
If we can pursue the courses of expanding our markets both here and abroad and removing the obstacles that can be removed, I feel that we will be able to weather this adjustment. We will sweat it out, if I may use that term.
As to the more comprehensive picture of the future, it seems to me—and I would like to suggest to this committee respectfully, that serious consideration be given to formulating plans which would gradually, and I emphasize the word gradually, withdraw the executive branch of the Government from the support and productioncontrol program.
The CHAIRMAN. How would you do that? Tell us.
The CHAIRMAN. That is what all of us want to do and I would be the first one to advocate it if I could get the key to open that thought. You give us your ideas on that. That is what we are here for.
Mr. East. I have two ideas that I maybe could make intelligible. The first is that the production side of the food and natural fibers industry is just a part of it. It is just a segment.
I believe we could profitably explore very thoroughly and exhaustively the proposition of looking at the industry as a whole, production, marketing, processing, distribution, and see if first of all we can get more of a community of thinking. I think we as producers lack a full understanding of some of the problems that the other segments of our business have confronting them. I think on the other hand it works both ways. They have some lack of understanding of our problems. It seems to me that within that entire industry there may be resources and ability which could help us solve some of our problems.
The CHAIRMAN. Won't you be specific? Take cotton How would you handle that commodity or any other commodity that you are familiar with ?
Mr. East. Well, if you permit me, sir, I am not a producer of cotton. But in regard to the beef business, for instance
The CHAIRMAN. What?
Mr. East. I think we might well get the cooperation or better understanding under the part of the packers and distributors of meat, we might go far if we would be willing to use some of our own resources in advertising our program more effectively.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you think you could get producers of beef together and packers where the packers would give to the producer a fair share for growing the beef, on a voluntary basis? That is your suggestion ?
Mr. East. As a producer of beef I would say this: The packing industry in my opinion is one of the efficiently run processing industries. And I believe that if, I don't think they are out to gouge us. Sometimes we think so. I think sometimes they allocate their buying in a way which lessens competition which is not always in our interest.
The CHAIRMAN. That is not too good, is it
Mr. East. No. I am not sure we couldn't get something worked out on that plane if we tried to do it.
The CHAIRMAN. Why don't you try? There is nothing stopping you? You don't need a law for that, do you?
Mr. East. May I make this suggestion, that the Government might well use and the Congress might well use its prestige and facilities to encourage something of that sort. After all, we are dealing with a group of producers who are not organized and I believe some one said that they couldn't be organized.
The CHAIRMAN. Would you suggest Congress simply resolute on the matter and just say you get together and simply suggest it? Do you think they might do it?
Mr. East. I think the two things in my opinion are somewhat tied together. The only suggestion that I would have at this time is that it might be profitable to study the legislation which authorized the Farm Credit Administration. That it seems to me has operated in this way. The Government invested some money in that to get that system going. If I am correctly informed at this time that system belongs to the farmers, to the men who have used it and are using it. I believe the same thing is true, both of the land-bank system and of the farm-credit system. That involved getting cooperation in a good many places and it seems to me that that might furnish some suggestion of a pattern that might be followed to do the two things, get the executive branch of the Government out of the picture and to encourage more coordination within the entire industry.
I thank you. The CHAIRMAN. Any questions? Thank you ever so much, Mr. East. (Mr. East's prepared statement follows:) The following suggestions are respectfully submitted for consideration of the committee :
1. That plans be formulated now to gradually withdraw the executive branch of the Federal Government from the field of price support and production control of agricultural commodities.
This suggestion is based on the following considerations :
(a) That the problems involved are economic in nature but under present law political considerations can and have led to unsound economic decisions.
(0) That the present program does not have the necessary scope to deal with the competitive forces within agriculture.
(c) That under the present approach, a program with the necessary scope would be unworkable and impossible of administration.
(d) That the present program does not achieve the stability contemplated, and will eventually result in farmers becoming wards of the Government.
2. That the food and natural fibers industry be considered in its entirety, recognizing that all segments (production, marketing, processing, and distribution) are closely related and interdependent.
This suggestion is based on the following considerations :
(a) That a better understanding and appreciation of the contribution made by and problems of each system by all in the industry could lead to needed coordination and improvement in the efficiency of the entire industry.
(1) That the national welfare requires a sound, healthy agricultural industry throughout.
(c) That the abilities and resources of the entire industry might well develop a mechanism by which the production segment (operating as a group of individuals) could, as a part of the entire industry, achieve bargaining equality with a closely organized industry and labor economy.
3. That in order to implement suggestions 1 and 2, consideration be given to authorization by the Congress of a structure along the general lines of the Farm Credit system, which is owned and controlled by the users, and free from the ebb and flow of political tides.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Rawlings? Give your name in full, please, and your occupation.
STATEMENT OF WILLIAM V. RAWLINGS, EXECUTIVE SECRETARY,
ASSOCIATION OF VIRGINIA PEANUT AND HOG GROWERS, INC., CAPRON, VA.
Mr. RAWLINGS. My name is William V. Rawlings, and my address is Capron, Va. I am a peanut producer and I am executive secretary of the Association of Virginia Peanut and Hog Growers. It is a commodity association. It has in its membership approximately 10,000 peanut growers in the State of Virginia. It is on behalf of that association and membership thereof that I am appearing here today.
I would like to point out that the statement that I ask to file with the committee was approved unanimously by our board of directors consisting of 26 representative peanut growers.
(Mr. Rawlings' prepared statement follows:)
Mr. Chairman, and other distinguished members of the Senate Agriculture and Forestry Committee, my name is William V. Rawlings and my home is Capron, Va. I am a peanut grower and executive secretary of the Association of Virginia Peanut and Hog Growers, Inc., which is a commodity association of all peanut growers in Virginia having acreage allotments in their names, totaling approximately 1,000 members. Most of these depend heavily upon hogs as their chief supplement to peanuts for a living. It is on behalf of this association I am here today. The following statement was unanimously approved by our board of directors, consisting of 26 growers, at a meeting on November 10, 1955.
Virginia peanut growers deeply appreciate the efforts of this committee to get the thinking and views of a broad cross section of grassroots agriculture and this opportunity we are afforded today to discuss with you our specific problems, together with our recommendations for solutions.
I. IMPORTANCE OF A SOUND AGRICULTURE ECONOMY
1. Need for better public relations
Fundamentally, a very disturbing aspect of the overall national picture today is the apathy and complacency in high places of agriculture trust and leadership toward conveying factually to the consuming public that because there are less farmers today in relation to the total population, agriculture is just as important to the total economy as it was in the 1920's, that the farm problem is still their problem and that agriculture prosperity is their own assurance of prosperity. However, the most disturbing aspect of the current picture is the fact that many of these same people, have actually used their position of agriculture trusteeship to divide and line up the consumers against the farmers on the theory lower prices, lower farm income, and less sharing of our national prosperity by agriculture is in the best interest of consumers.
Today, we have national prosperity unequaled in our history, yet the farmers of our Nation are not participating in that prosperity. Farmers are facing a situation almost exactly like that of the 1920's when the overall economy was booming but farmers were in a tailspin. In the 1920's the leadership of our country failed to realize the importance of a prosperous agriculture; and when the general economy slowed down, agriculture led the Nation into its worst depression. It can happen again if we aren't on our toes and begin now to take the necessary steps to prevent history from repeating itself.